Sunday, 25 December 2011

A vErY HaPPy ChRiStMaS! to you All!

A very happy Christmas to you all from Jeff, Judy, Molly, Zena & Ben!

We're off down the pub in our Santa outfits later...

Tight lines and wet nets in the New Year!

Monday, 19 December 2011

An Anglers Ghost Story - The Watcher in the Woods

Those recent reports of big Warwickshire Avon roach had me salivating at the prospect of catching one myself. Now, just because a couple have been caught doesn't mean it was certain that I would manage one first time out, in fact I think it will be a task to get one before March as they aren't going to be any less common just because of a few fish on the bank. However, just knowing they are around is enough of a spur especially as before these reports I was labouring under the impression that the river simply didn't have it in it to provide them. Now that it is certain that it surely does, the job is made a whole lot easier as there's bound to be more around of that class than just the two we know about.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Bob Nudd goes Punch fishing for Roach

Sent across by local Coventry angler Ivan Scanlon for my delectation and amusement, I just had to share it with you. Bobb Nudd goes trotting for roach with punched bread. Classic stuff!

Red apparel and white hat is great camouflage as fish can't see red, so Dick Walker once said, and a white hat blends with the sky. All true, but people can see it a mile off and I ain't going out dressed like a fireman for nothing!

Off to the river today for spot of the same, let's hope I can put one or two nice fish on the bank myself...

Overnight frost, scattered wintry showers forecast for later, brrrr...

Good luck with your weekend's fishing adventures all, whatever your fish of choice might be.

And cheers Ivan.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

On Roach - Warwickshire Avon Über Roach

One day it had to happen, and that day has finally come around. Forget the Bristol and the Hampshire, the Avon of the moment is the Warwickshire one. 80 miles of wandering, willful water has finally matured into a bona fide big roach fishery with the stunning captures of two two-pound fish in as many weeks.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Publishing a Fishing Book - The Crunch (Pt4)

The manuscript is complete, printed and heavy in the hand - most satisfyingly weighty in fact, these 226 pages of A4, single-sided, double line-spaced, thick-margined, 12pt Roman typeface. Now comes the crunch - other people get to read it and that is where I'm sure the fun really starts!

Monday, 12 December 2011

River Roach - Small Stream Adventures - River Anker Recce

Out yesterday on a reconaissance trip searching for pockets of good roach on the small lowland streams of the Midlands. This flushing session was conducted with Molly aiding operations on the upper Anker above Nuneaton and was partially successful in that I did eventually find roach, and of the right size, but unfortunately not nearly so many as should have been there had the river not been dredged and generally messed with over the years and with predictable results - a denuded habitat and few too few fish for so much water explored.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Canal Roach - Ronny and Reggy on My Manor, and other Tales of Hope & Woe

The trouble with blogging about angling is that any angler's blog is, at a basic level, a diary for the blogger to scan back through from time to time in search of archived information. They are just the most effective means I have ever come across for such a purpose as Google's Blogger kindly gives us the means, in the form of various clever sidebar widgets to index and re-access the information at light speed.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Canal Roach - Slick!

Grassy Bend is affected by the worst oil slick I have ever seen on the canal - some worthless turd having seen it fit and proper behaviour to pump out their bilge straight into the cut. The wind is keeping it concentrated in the bend and I guess it'll slowly break up and disperse over time but in the meantime, its disgusting stuff. I don't think it affects the fish down deep until it does sink and so I fished way off to one side of it in clear water.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Canal Roach - Just One Kiss

The only place I know of in the whole of Warwickshire where there really is a chance of a proper big roach is Grassy Bend on the Oxford Canal. I can count the roach I have had from this place on the six fingers of one hand but they have all been over a pound and three of them have been over a pound and a half with the largest at just half an ounce under the magic two. That's quite a pedigree but it takes time for each to come, a lot of time actually,

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Publishing a Fishing Book - Word Imperfect (Pt3)

I can't move on to the topics I promised end of last post. My brain fried. There's too many contradictory signals out there in etherland telling me one thing and the other and I'm afraid that without the truths that come only from, err, what's that damn ism...?

Never can remember it when I need to...

... empiricism! - one can never know what to expect.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Roving Zeds 50th Birthday Bash

I'm now a nifty-fifty.... To celebrate I invited a load of the bloggers taking part in this years challenge over to the local canals to take part in a roving zander match. The turn out was magnificent with at least ten turning out for the bash and with Phil Smith, Merv Wilkinson and his grandson coming along for a chat too.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Publishing a Fishing Book - Punk Publishing (Pt2)

Having examined the traditional publishing route and been struck by the massive inequities apparent within it, you just have to look into the alternatives. Ten years ago there was probably only one other alternative apart from becoming a publisher yourself, and that was to publish through a 'vanity publisher', an operation who would create your book for you and sell you all the services that the publisher would ordinarily farm out.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Publishing a Fishing Book - 90% (Pt1)

You may have considered writing an angling book, even got some way towards writing one or perhaps wrote a few chapters but put the project to bed meaning to pick it up again at a later date and finish the damn thing. You may even have written the whole damn thing, looked at it later and thought better of it with the benefit of critical distance.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Sometimes, Fish Don't Bite

Now, when I say that 'sometimes, fish don't bite', I don't mean that you're fishing in the wrong place or that you've no fish out front or you're no good at what you're doing or perhaps the baits you're fishing aren't what they want or the way you're presenting it is askew or any of the million and one other excuses that can be made up to justify all the wasted time and money spent on trying to get bites in the first place...

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Canal Carp - Twenty Four Hours

The sixth four hour session after the canal carp and it would be the last whether I caught or not. I should have tried in summer when the fish would have been very active, as now winter approaches, warm weather or not the fish are in transition, assuming their winter habits and lying up in their cold weather habitats.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Guess the Weight of the Stinky Eel Competition - Results

Yesterday's Guess-the-Weight-of-the-Stinky-Eel-Competition has run for 24 hours, a winner has emerged, so it's now closed. My thanks to everyone who took part.

It was an amazingly close-run thing with most of the entrants guessing within half a pound, which is remarkable as I would not have had a clue from a picture and would have taken a stab at it in the dark. As one or two remarked, eels don't weigh half as much as you think they do and though this fish was the kind of fish that the towpath grapevine would have as 'six pounder', it was wasn't quite that ...

Gurn wins a pair of brand spanking new Jeff Hatt signature widget float with new improved 'unbreakable' carbon stem and free, unused, starlight! The lucky, lucky man... 

Product shown approx life size. Batteries not included

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Canal Carp - Gutted

Another crack at those canal carp seemed a good idea yesterday evening. Warm and pleasant for the time of year and with a little light rain forecast just after dark, not windy, overcast and the moon on my moon-phase widget a neat half-pie, I really thought that tonight would be the night. I had hemp to tempt the fish to get their heads down and stop giving me endless liners and a pocket full of Quality Street trick or treat left-overs from Halloween to make myself queasy on. Molly was up for it, I was up for it, and hopefully the carp were up for it too.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Canal Carp - Hard Liners & The Slip-Shot Rig

Another two four hour sessions after the Cov Canal carp come to a close without result. The first was a late afternoon into darkness affair and was interesting in that there were no indications of fish at all the two hours before dusk and then as soon as the auto night-lights on the indicators turned on in the half light, the bobbins started to twitch every now and then and the frequency of these 'signs' rose as night came, culminating in an seemingly endless series of full scale liners. One of the baits was brought back into the boat channel where the liners were obviously coming from and then just before I had to go home, a had a three inch twitch on that rod that on examination of the slip-shot behind the lead was seen to have been a real pickup

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Gonks on the March

When I came up to the Midlands four years ago I started river fishing properly for the first time. I'd been living in Essex my whole life before but river fishing is not really something anglers do down there as the only 'decent' river available is the Lee (or Lea), which is certainly the most polluted and shamelessly abstracted chalk stream on the planet, and the upper reaches, where the monster chub are is too far Up North and besides, that's in the foreign country of Hertfordshire.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Canal Carp - A Broken Crock

I had to go back. That single dropped run I had was enough to inspire a foray even if the lovely sunny day ahead couldn't tempt me out.

This time I took a trio of straightforward baits, pellets and meat and corn, and decided that one rod would be the corn rod and the other the trial rod and the logic being that the carp here would have seen more corn than any other type of bait other than maggots - corn being one of the standard baits that people chuck in after canal fish of all kinds and one that these carp would be well used to mopping up after dark.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Canal Carp - Delving a Pot of Gold

As it was such a warm day yesterday I thought I'd have a crack at some carp that have been reported out of a notorious local canal peg over the summer months. The towpath grapevine throws up these tales from time to time but as I threaded my way back from the succulent bunches of sweet grapes I was being fed by those who had only heard of these carp and eventually found my way all the way down to the root of the vine and the actual captor, the top weight fish had shrunk somewhat, from twenty five pounds to eighteen and the quantity too. It turned out that he has had eight fish over eight trips since May, not ten fish in two or three over the last weeks ...

Friday, 21 October 2011

Electric Canal Freaks

Have you ever seen anything like this canal bream caught yesterday afternoon? It's almost a crucian, in fact it behaved like a crucian - fought as hard, was netted and then just laid there in the mesh as good as gold, never paddled a fin, didn't flap about and his mouth barely moved either - I had to prod him just to see if he was still alive! He was, thankfully, and went back with a cheery slap of the tail and a vertical dive straight down. Then again, with a fish this shape which way is up?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

River Roach - The Stratford Blues

I've been so busy writing this book of mine that the blogger in me has taken the passenger seat and has been idly watching the landscape fly by as this upstart book writer hangs on to the wheel with his foot to the floor but luckily, even speeding upstarts need a stop off at the service station every now and then so the blogger has been able to stretch his legs once in a while. The word count is now scraping 50,000 and will pass that mark today with the beginnings of the another chapter and as they are pouring out so easily I can't see the first draft taking more than another couple of weeks to complete and now I'm beginning to work on the illustrations as a way of slowing things up a little and getting the mind to come around to the idea of editing - the slow and methodical but enjoyable process of sifting flour and cutting fat from the beef for the succulent meaty pie I'm baking.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

River Roach - Scratching the Itch - Down Beat & Up Beat (pt2)

Both the news and the tea were very, very good when I got to the fishing hut  - Danny had broken the British gudgeon record but slipped it back unwitnessed, nonplussed by its size, unsure that it could ever have been what it actually was and even confusing it with a baby barbel! Luckily (for us) he had the proof in pictures which are often better evidence than the fish in the hand and had weighed it at six or seven ounces on a dial balance never designed to be accurate so low down on the scale but there's no doubt about it - it was a gudgeon alright and seven inches long too

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

River Roach - Scratching the Itch - Putting the Roach Hatt On (pt1)

It's a funny old game. I fished one of the most exciting stretches of water imaginable just yesterday but decided, as this was my third trip to this gem of a water, that I'd now forgo all the pleasures of swimming the stream with a stick float and centrepin for most of the day catching one grayling after the other, a spectacular leaping trout every now and then, or hooking and losing salmon once in a while and when finally exhausted by it all traipsing down to the 'coarse' beats a little too late in the afternoon to really try properly for a big roach and instead of all that just go for broke

Thursday, 6 October 2011

A Seeswood Seizure, Rare Flying Anglers & The John Wilson Self-take Trophy Shot Experience

Steve Philips invited me over to Seeswood Pool the other evening. It was right at the end of the fabulous October heat-wave which has to have been the best spell of summer weather in autumn I can remember. It was warm and then the clouds of doom came over and the end of the balmy degrees we had enjoyed so briefly was nigh.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Big Perch Quest - The Freaky Menagerie of 'The Lawns'

Catching Personal best fish always seems to lead to a temporary downturn in fortune unless that is you hit one of those streaks of luck that leads to two or three in a row, like mine with zander and barbel in February last and then a catastrophic downturn like the start of my perch problems at Weston Lawns in March. I've been back twice to the Lawns in the weeks following my jammy big perch at Blenheim

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Bad Angle on Boat Fishing

I think that the Blenheim trip was the first time I had ever been out on a boat and taken long rods with me and it has to be said that they were a real pain especially when it came to landing fish. The first problem that became apparent was one of space - the long rods (11 & 13 feet) when in transit had to be put out over the boat at the stern and bow and because of all the various bits of gear and boat parts they had to cross over the butts of the rods had to be well inside the boat so that they did not fall over the side. When rowing the oarsman needs clear space around the gunnels, space for his legs and a firm grip with the feet unimpeded by gear in the way. Long rods compromised all three.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Big Perch Quest - The Blenheim Experience - On the Horns (pt2)

You'll forgive me for writing such a depressing account of the first half of day but really there is no other way to describe the slow motion capsizing of our once buoyant optimism. We were now fishing deep water, perhaps nine feet or more just off the bank and deeper still out in the middle and it seemed utterly fishless. My instinct was that we should go back to fish the shallow water up by the bridge, water that was no more than six foot deep in the central channel where the old river bed would be and more like three or four either side of it. Thankfully Lee was thinking exactly the same thing

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Big Perch Quest - The Blenheim Experience - Feeling the Pinch (pt1)

Despite over shooting our M40 turn off by two whole junctions through excessive fishing talk then making a hasty turn about and a HTC app assisted re-route through the outskirts of Oxford, Lee and I got to the palace dead on time. It was dawn and the whole Capabilty Brown landscaped valley that the palace sits in was shrouded in thick mist.

Monday, 19 September 2011

River Roach - Ol' Rubberneck goes Redfinning...

Like all good stories this one begins and ends with a curry...

Before setting off for a day out at Stratford with me getting in some serious roach fishing in the Lucy's Mill weirpools and Judy and Molly setting off for a six mile walk downstream through the Seven Meadows and beyond, Judy had prepared a highly aromatic chicken jalfrezi and put it on the side to improve for later. As you would...

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Silver Bream - No Sign of Either Or

Martin and I mounted a foray after a couple of target species up the Grand Union Canal Saturday last - he after zander and me after zander and silver bream at one and the same time. I was windy and wild but as with all canals in even hurricane force winds you can always find an area that is dead calm in which to fish, so our first port of call was to the windiest area of canal I have ever fished in my life because it looked so flipping zandery...

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Big Perch Quest - Bollox to Perch

Keith likes perch... perch likes Keith....

I like perch but perch don't like me. It has to be said that I am, through no reason that I can fathom, its butt. Try as I may I cannot break through into the kind of perch that Keith does. You may remember we enjoyed many sessions fishing after the spiky little fuckers back in Spring? If you do then you will also remember that Keith caught, oh, lots of big fat spawn laden 'twos' and 'threes' and I caught lots of, well,  sub-decent specimens and lost every single one over the tragic pound and a half.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Phil Smith's New Book - Targets Set and Achieved

I've just ordered Phil Smith's new tome so I can go get it signed by the man himself at the launch on 17th of September

Friday, 26 August 2011

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Time and Tide: Mission Impossible

The first thing any self-respecting East Anglian sea angler does before fishing is dig (or find) his own bait. You could go to the shop and buy what you need but you do need deep pockets at £10 a pound for live king ragworm or £0.70 per live peeler crab, especially when you just might be chucking all that money at the voracious green shore crabs and shrimps if the fish are not biting.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Time and Tide...

Bass have occupied my dreams of late...

Then an offer come over the ether to write editorial around a Honda ad about night fishing with illuminated lures. In the video they are fishing out of Brixham and catching big bass at night over a wreck somewhere far out in the English Channel and this sparked a train of thought about the possibility of catching bass on illuminated lures at an old low tide shore mark of mine, a place that five years ago was so productive and so secret that even now I can't tell myself where it is...!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

A Glorious Waste of Time...!

The Great British Fish-in is a national institution. A load of blokes who may or may not even know each other but who are bound loosely together in piscatorial brotherhood by dint of a shared interest in all things fishy get together on a stretch of bank along some stream or around some puddle to ostensibly, apparently and purportedly but not necessarily or even actually, catch fish.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Canal Roach - Julian Hiatus

Summertime, and the fishing is easy...

Too easy for me it would appear as I always seem to lose interest this time of the year. Bass fishing, my fishing of choice when the sun is warming the mudflats and luring the silver bars within inches of the shingle in inches of water in search of easy pickings, is at its best right now but alas the sea is not only distant, but an increasingly distant memory. It's the downside of living within spitting distance of Meridan, the center of England. Bass are a very long way away indeed.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Summer Carp - Monk's Pool Revisited

We were after grass carp and a pleasant day spent fishing floaters for them but an hour spent on the chosen water observing fish rise to a stream of wind blown chum mixers revealed that the carp were a fraction of the size we'd been led to believe and that grass carp were not amongst them. So much for fishery puff. So, it was decided that a swift move was in order before we got caught for a day ticket, the destination, a venue where grass carp were not but floater fun was pretty much guaranteed and with the half chance of a half decent carp.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

River Zander - Severn Quest - Big Fish Eat Little Fish

Fishing in places where monsters lurk has been an abiding theme of my year's angling so far. Two trips to Marsh Farm after outsize crucians provided me with an inevitable personal best for the species for in such a place as that fish over two pounds are the stamp so I would have been a very bad angler indeed to have failed to improve upon my previous best of one pound six. As it happened I beat it three times over in three hours and still failed to get past two pounds, five ounces. If they had fed all day long I might well have beat it ten times over in consecutive fish and ended up at four pounds something...

Then there was the hunt for a gargantuan record shaker/maker of a perch on Hanningfield Ressy, a trip where we failed miserably to even locate perch of any size let alone one to wake the record committee up for. That was fun though - messing about in boats always is - and them trout wuz ard bastads...!

When Steve suggested an overnighter after really quite large zander, I of course said yes, even though zander, a fish that I've found bites hardest through a crack in the canal ice, are not exactly a fish I'd naturally associate with high summer. Who cares when no less than four over mid-double figures have come from the river stretch responsible in the fortnight since the season began in mid June

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Canal Roach - My Quest for the Magic Two - It Never Rains

Roach are the most infuriating of fish. Go to a commercial fishery and chuck in a handful of maggots and they'll be a net full of sub pounders by tea time but go to a river and do the same and it won't work most of the the time, unless it's a day when it does work of course, just to make matters worse.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Big Perch Quest - Somewhere under the Rainbows

Steve of Watery Reflections dropped me a last minute proposition on Sunday. 'Jeff, fancy coming on a trip early Monday morning after a record perch, all expenses paid, bait and tackle provided?'

Well, I was all set on washing my hair on Monday, but...

Friday, 17 June 2011

River Bream - Rosettes for Everything

Wasperton on the Avon has not been my favourite of river locations having suffered two royal blanks out of my only two sessions there to date. It's not as if those sessions were uninteresting as the scenery around those parts of the Avon is well lush, but I had no action at all in the hours fished and on the Avon, which the EA have pronounced the 'best stocked river in all Blighty',  I do want and expect, knocks, indications, liners, sail-aways, pick-ups, rip-offs, whack-arounds, drop-backs, dips, bobbles, nibbles, dibbles or what have you in the way of that all important evidence of fish being out front - a bite.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Canal Roach - Gone Goozling, Again...

Keith has made me aware of what I am, or rather what I have become. A gongoozler, or someone who watches the activities of the canal network. Not a trainspotter in any sense but an idler in essence - one who watches things happen at lock and basin but at a remove, a distance, observes, is not involved in any direct way, is a spectator, an onlooker.

I am involved though. I fish it and I'm known to the local live-in boaters as an angler. They talk to me, tip me the wink, offer advice and the occasional can of cheap and nasty lager. I give them almost nothing in return as my sandwich of cheery greeting and a chirpy farewell has very little in the way of substantive filling apart from what little tittle-tattle I have picked along the towpath from other boaters and about other boaters and boaty things, which is all the filling they are really interested in.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Gravel Pit Bream - Down't Pit by Crack a' Dawn

I'm really into the gravel pits this summer. It's a rekindled old flame as I always did love to fish the pits down Essex way for carp and tench but when I lived there I never really considered just what it was I had on my doorstep as I wasn't that concerned with catching lumps at that time.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Canal Roach - My Quest for the Magic Two - Punch Drunk

The Coventry Canal gave up one of its secrets on Sunday afternoon, something it does every once in a rare while and when it happens it's always well worth witnessing. Most of the time the Canal is silent, opaque and mysterious and you could be forgiven for thinking that very little of any consequence lives in it. However I have been privy to a number of brief revelatory sightings of its occupants and I can tell you that there are far more and far greater fish living down there than than the very difficult fishing would ever let you imagine.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Gravel Pit Bream - A Sniff of the Slimies

In my new found enthusiasm for figuring out the foibles of large stillwater bream I decided that I'd need to have at least two waters to fling a feeder at in order to be able to compare and contrast data sets. With a little googling I found one not too distant that contained them in small numbers of the required size. Also, I had it on an eyeball from Lee that the other pit was still choked with its current algae bloom and showed no signs of a pending die back, so having suffered an eerily silent blank there I wasn't about to suffer another.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Canal Tench - Seeking Silver - More Fin Than Fish

Lee Fletcher came over to my local silver bream emporium yesterday evening to see if he could wangle one out for himself as they have seemed a quite safe bet this season with no less than... wait for it... steady in the ranks... eight, yes that's eight whole silvers banked since end of April. Whooo - eight - who'd have ever thought that? I personally have had only six as two of the total fell to the Northern rod, Mike Duddy, also on a visit - of course I hoped that Lee would fare the same as Mike and catch a pounder too.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Gravel Pit Bream - Bloomin' Eck!

'Next to actually going fishing ' Say's Phil Smith, 'the anticipation of the trip is almost as exciting'

There's a lot of truth in that but I would add that often the anticipation is far, far better. Yesterday was such a day, a day that began with high expectation and boundless enthusiasm for the projected trip where I would, according to my overactive imagination, catch not only a double-figure bream or two but also a tench of the same weight, if I was very lucky, which I was certain I was.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Commercial Sense - The Numbers Game

I takes some getting used to does this commercial fishery angling, what with well stocked tackle shops on site, toilet blocks fit for a royal visit, a cup of fresh tea hand brewed by the fishery matriarch whenever you want one and often with a choice of ponds offering particular brews of species and as with Saturday's trip with Martin, single species lakes, which is something that I find very hard to get my head around.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Silver Bream - Seeking Silver - Digging the Spadework

Despite having plenty of opportunity to chase other more points-worthy species on the challenge scoreboard, silver bream have been uppermost in my mind over the past week or so and chasing them for a couple of hours around dusk every evening has been what I've been up to. And I've had a few more up to a pound in weight amongst some 'normal' bream and a welcome ten ounce roach, but nothing much larger than this year's mean (so far) of 14.75 ounces, a figure well up on last year's established mean of just 10.5 ounces, and that indicates that these fish are healthy and growing apace - 3-4 ounces per annum at an average age of perhaps four years - which is very good news for the fish and the fishery.

Three years of regular canal fishing have taught me that small and compact is beautiful. There's but a square yard to set up and sit in

I'm trying to fathom what makes this fish tick as they are easily the least understood of all the 'common' British coarse fish and a real challenge to the grey matter, not least because there's hardly any reliable information out there concerning them and virtually no information about how to fish for them or where to go to do so.

I've caught them through the day (not tried dawn through early morning yet) but they do like to feed in the hours approaching and around dusk when they seem to be in a state of high-excitement, freely competing for the ground-bait of mashed bread, a food item they really do seem to love. And, at that time of day, as the light falls away they move up to the shallow marginal shelf on the far bank, probably to raid the day's accumulated larder of fallen foodstuffs, caterpillars and other hapless bugs for instance, that have entered the water from the overhanging brambles.

What is remarkable about silver bream caught at dusk is the amazing play light off their scales. I've heard that they're more closely related to the bleak than to the bronze bream, another fish with bright scales and a large eye. The bleak's scales contain a substance called guanine, once known by the much nicer name of 'essence d'orient', that has pearlescent qualities and was once extracted from the scales to create artificial pearls.

'The fishes are rubbed rather roughly in pure water contained in a large basin; the whole is then strained through a linen cloth, and left for several days to settle, when the water is drawn off. The sediment forms the essence of orient. It requires from 17,000 to 18,000 fish to obtain about a pound of this substance.'

I don't know if the silver breams scales contain essence d'orient too but the scales are extremely reflective, picking up and glowing with light that you'd swear wasn't even there! This is mirror camouflage at the peak of perfection. Also, I noticed that last night's single specimen had a belly tinged with vermillion around the fins and the vent, a detail I had not noticed before - perhaps it's some kind of mating plumage?

A teaspoon of bread milk in a litre of water

That they love bread is no surprise either, as so much of the stuff is chucked in locally that even the waterfowl refuse it at peak duck feeding times, the excess floating about and eventually sinking into fish range. I could feed liquidised bread of course but the mashed bread with its larger particles seems to be working extremely well, not least, I suspect, because mashed bread also carries an advantage over liquidised bread (when used in a canal) in the form of an extremely fine cloud of bread 'milk' that very slowly sinks and hits the bottom where it spreads out into the water as a powerful attractant, aided in its spread throughout the water column by the attentions of fish.

If recent results are anything to go by, you can set your watch by it. Ball in one or two slices of bread mashed to a pulp in canal water and within three quarters of an hour or less I have usually had fish in the swim, their presence signaled by erratic sideways movements of the float as they brush against the line, which in most cases results in a true bite within five minutes, and often less. This ritual has taken place every evening this week, so it cant be coincidental.

Tonight, I intend to broaden the approach by adopting a roving aspect, something akin to upper river chub fishing where you bait a series of consecutive swims and then go back to the start and fish them one by one, taking a fish or two from each if they have responded to the feed, and moving swiftly along to the next if no indications have come within ten minutes or so.

I reckon it may be key...

We'll see.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Gravel Pit Bream - The Big Bream Puzzle

It's interesting to note that after catching three PB tench on successive trips that my interest in catching an even bigger tench has vanished. I went out after one, of course I did, but on the bank I found myself scanning the horizon for signs of bream, of all things. I set up and cast out only to sit down and find myself wondering what it was that a big bream might like

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Silver Bream - Seeking Silver - Another Piece of the Puzzle

At this time of year many British anglers interested in catching very big coarse fish are trying terribly hard right now to catch the females of certain species as they fatten and fill with spawn. Some fish have already shot their load: perch did it in April and I know that the canal bream have already done their thing, but silver bream....

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Crucian Carp - Crucian Crusade - King Prawn..!

A 3.30 am start is no big deal for any normal angler but, through lack of a nightcap (Judy has suddenly banned alcoholic beverages from the household, Monday through Thursday...) my occasional insomniac tendencies kicked in, and so I managed about ten minutes of cat-napping in an attempted three hour stint of sleep, eventually resigning myself to the waste of energy trying to sleep had become around two thirty and getting up earlier than planned to enjoy farting about with my bait and tackle over a steaming mug of tea.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Gravel Pit Tench - Ever So Big

Gravel pits - I haven't fished one in years. I grew up fishing an old style pit complex in Essex, originally exploiting the ancient Thames gravel terraces, gravels laid down since the last ice age that from time to time throw up elephant and hippo bones and also flint handaxes fashioned half a million years ago by our distant ancestors of the lower Paleolithic. I have one myself in fact, found in the Ravensbourne, a very minor Lower Thames tributary.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Challenge 2011 - Acing, Racing, Pacing...

below is a spreadsheet I've come up with to explain what is happening with our challenge and how things might well pan out in the future. There are three competitors listed here, the top three as things stand right now, and that's Keith, myself and Danny. The scores are expressed as an advantage/disadvantage with regards to the entire field rather than as a points total over the nearest rival as that is neither here nor there at the moment, and simply shows who has worked hard/struck lucky.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Crucian Crusade - A 'Four' from Marsh Farm

Big fish are my passion and the bigger they are, the more I enjoy them. That's not to suggest for a moment that I don't enjoy catching small fish because I do, just so long as they are pointing at something larger to come but when the times arrives when it is clear that a water will not be throwing up any more surprises in terms of ever larger specimens then my enthusiasm wanes away to nothing. Quickly.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Silver Bream - The Reel Deal

Yesterday was a historic one in angling with no less than three anglers setting out from home with the sole intention of fishing for silver bream and silver bream alone, and without heading for a certain commercial fishery, Mill Farm in Surrey, the Mecca of the species and home to a string of five or six recent past record breakers, to do so.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Summer Carp - A Hard One Off The Top

We went on a long, long walk last Sunday, Judy, the dog and I. A nice Sunday morning stroll that then became a hike and later a near marathon when we decided, with good reason, to take a trip up the Ashby canal as far as the Lime Kiln pub on the A5 and then turn about on ourselves after a pint (me, two) of cool beer. What we hadn't bargained for was the incredible inaccuracy of canal-side visitor maps that contract and compress the canal into an illustration comprising of mostly bridges and other landmarks but without any true indication of distance between each - so what we thought was a couple of extra easy miles turned out to be a further arduous five

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Rudd - You Know Summer is Here, When...?

Keith and I met up last night for a crack at the perch of Brookfields, a local commercial complex that is documented in match reports as containing four pounders. We've tried the particular pond that contains them, a pretty reed fringed water that would be an idyllic place if it were not for the proximity of the M6 motorway a number of times, but have yet to catch a single perch over a pound, between us.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Big Perch Quest - A Reason to be Cheerful

My perch woe continues - what was a bit of a joke a few weeks back has become something else entirely. I know it's a quirk of statistics, this inability to catch a perch over the weight of one pound eight ounces, but it's getting to the point now where it seems that there is something else at work.

Friday, 1 April 2011

A Worm by the Tale

Keith swung round my way yesterday afternoon spouting what I thought was some cock and bull story about how he'd discovered some bylaw clause that allowed us to fish the Avon right up till March 31st so we could actually get in a little very late season barbelling if we abandoned our plans for perch fishing at Weston Lawns and went to Stratford instead.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Silver Bream - Pond life - My Menagerial Hell

I'm being stalked by domesticated albinos and now, stock on the hoof...!

Last night I went fishing at the Pit Pool just to see if I could catch a bigger silver bream than my biggest example from the pond — a whopper of seven ounces or more — and had a terrible time of it. Things were progressing just fine with the swim building nicely and a healthy procession of small silvers, skimmers and roach coming to net, when I became aware of a living presence to my unprotected rear.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Silver Bream - This Season, I'll be Mostly Wearing...

It's been a harsh winter and with a couple of months of ice and snow from November onwards it has seemed like a very long and protracted one but now that spring is upon and the clocks have gone forward lending us late evenings in which to play, I've a sorted out a new summer fishing wardrobe out of last season's knackered old rags in fetching light greys, buffs, faded greens and the like - just the palette for stalking about in the reeds.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Big Perch Quest - Occupational Hazardry

Like most anglers I'm a weather freak, constantly scanning the Met Office website for news of upcoming weather events that might hamper or indeed, improve fishing prospects. The short range forecast for the coming week looked very bad for my prospects with a rash of unseasonably warm days coming along coupled with bright clear skies that would bring on the carp and tench who do like an upturn in temperatures

Friday, 18 March 2011

Big Perch Quest - This Fishing's on Fire!

After publishing a piece concerning perch and my ongoing and frustrating problem with passing a certain weight of them you'd be forgiven for thinking that I'd just made up what follows for dramatic effect, for the sake of a good story... believe me, I often think my entire life pans out along a rolling story-line that I have no part in the authorship of and this continuing sub-plot of perch fishing incompetence is just sodding typical of what I, as an actor, have to put up with on a day-to-day basis.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Big Perch Quest - More than Nothing, Less than Something

In my mind, perch have been growing in significance recently. This is due to many things coming together in my head at once not least of which is the closing of the rivers and the lack of anything else in ponds and lakes feeding in earnest right now, the females being as heavy as they will be all year long with their spawning coming up in April, having also a couple of waters at the extreme outside edge of my walking range that contain very big fish indeed, but mostly, it has to be said, because of the fact that I have been suffering from, and trying hard to ignore for years, a bad case of perch constipation, a blockage that seems quite impossible to clear.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Out of their Sight, Out of their Minds - Coventry Canal Electrofished

I regret to have to inform you that the Coventry Canal between the M6 bridge, Exhall and bridge 13 in Bedworth has been electro fished by 'two men in a boat' who worked the section 'all day long' and took away 'two truck loads of fish' and drove them to 'a still-water up north,' according to my sources.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Silver Bream - Pond Life - On Coming Down to Earth

It was Keith who predicted what would happen next... after enjoying a purple patch of just one week's duration in which I would break two personal bests by large margins, I would then end up looking at my reality from a false and dangerous perspective - omnipotence - and I would henceforth step into any fishery and believe that I had a God given right to its largest fish and that it would no longer be required that I work to earn them.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Big Zander Quest - I found my thrill, at Old Bury Hill (later)

Wandering around a wild water with all my provisions on my back and stalking never before caught fish is my idea of angling heaven, but on the other hand it has to be said that commercial fisheries without proper facilities are a real let down...

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Big Zander Quest - I found my thrill, at Old Bury Hill (earlier)

Rising at three in the morning to prepare bait & tackle for a 4:30 departure and then embarking upon a one hundred and twenty mile journey on a maiden visit to ye olde english estate lake in pursuit of a monstrously large specimen of a certain imported 'pest' that at close of play, at end of day, must be thrown back! may seem like the height of folly to those unfortunates who never had their forelocks licked by the Angels of the Angle when they were but babes in arms

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

In Pursuit of Winter Barbel - Double Trouble

Keith and I got out to Stratford and Lucy's Mill for a barbel session last night - the river was in what looked like fine fettle for the species with the level falling after recent rains but still pushing through at quite a rate - the water a rich brown with frothy suds coming off the weirs and drifting around the mill pool. Perfect conditions, I thought, for my new and very pungent bait which would slowly emanate its magic slick of attraction way downstream and bring the barbs upstream in search of it.

Friday, 18 February 2011

In Pursuit of Winter Barbel - Butt Waving at the Full Moon...

I really should have packed down the roach gear a little earlier in the evening and started the barbel session sooner because by the time I'd dismantled and re-mantled the made up rods from zander ready to barbel ready, with all the tying and threading that operation requires, I'd missed half the prime time around dusk and it was almost dark when both rods were finally cast and the general area ground baited.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

My Quest for the Magic Two - Rock Steady Beat

Before setting out yesterday for Stratford upon Avon and my beloved Lucy's Mill with Lee Fletcher, I'd spent the morning preparing myself for a two pronged assault upon two species of fish - roach during the daylight hours and then barbel around dusk and into darkness. The roach prep was easy - nipping across to the local superminimarket and purchasing a loaf of Warburton's blue was about it - the barbel prep rather more involved, as you can imagine.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Buggering Bouncing Bobbins (or words to that effect...)

All of a sudden some really good perch are turning up to the fishing challenge competitors - Andy and Danny had a nice haul of them up the cut the other day with the best brace falling to Danny's rod and these around the two pound mark - that they went out for roach is neither here nor there - they had worms as backup and the perch were obliging.

Friday, 11 February 2011

That was the Week, that Wasn't

This last fishing week has been a ragbag of apparently disconnected short sessions without any great result from any one of them but all, in some way, instructive. Last Sunday I managed to wangle a whole day at Stratford only to arrive and find the place all but un-fishable due to the high winds blowing straight up river - five degrees change of direction either way and it would have been sheltered enough for comfortable quiver tipping, but as it was the rods were trembling so much that bite registration was nigh impossible.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Canal Roach - My Quest for the Magic Two - A Blessed Relief

The prospects for the success of this late winter campaign of mine hinge upon two things, firstly that the local canals contain two pound roach, which is an established fact, and secondly, that the Avon at Stratford contains them too, which is a fact I have to establish myself. It also requires that I be able to catch them.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Canal Roach - My Quest for the Magic Two - Nothing for Something

You may have noticed in recent posts that I am now the owner of a pair of buzzers? Well, I haven't used buzzers in decades - the last buzzers I owned were a pair of the first Optonics ever to hit the shops in the early eighties. At the time they were a revelation to those inured to the struggle with Heron buzzers and their ilk, of which I'd a home-made pair built at great labour expense and ingeniously I thought, out of ex-GPO telephony components and bean cans, deliberately designed to equal the remarkable ineffectiveness of the originals...

Monday, 31 January 2011

River Roach - My Quest for the Magic Two - Maverick Decisions

I love fishing the river at Stratford-upon-Avon. Not only does it contain some of the largest fish of the many species that it is possible to catch along the whole river, it also has tons of character and the whole gamut of river fishing possibilities going for it.

My first love is fishing the weir-pools at Lucy's Mill. You never know what's coming along next

Roach - My Quest for the Magic Two - Cold Start

What with one thing and another my traditional winter specimen roach campaign, a pursuit that should have been well under way by mid-December at the very latest, has been postponed and delayed, deferred and waylaid to the point where half of its potential has already been spent leaving just two months in which to attempt to scale the slippery peak that all British coarse anglers with a soul call, 'The Magic Two.'

Thursday, 27 January 2011

River Roach - Small Stream Adventures - Pastures New

The mild spell is over. The forecast for the next five days is for temperatures in the West Midlands to hardly rise above zero by day and at night to stay well below, which means a frozen canal no doubt, and no fishing to be had in it for some time to come. They even say that a little snow is possible today...

Saturday, 22 January 2011

River Roach - Small Stream Adventures - The Money Shot

Keith's comment on my last post requests that I gather together a number of ingredients that could be cooked up to provide the perfect angling video moment...

Friday, 21 January 2011

Canal Zander & Pike - My Quest for a Big Cut Zed - Tough Luck Piking

I got out last night for a couple of hours but only managed to catch yet more tiny zeds - where all the larger zander have gone, I haven't a clue - and tonight I got out for a few hours more at the now legendary Marina Peg, but the fishing was not good, and so I ended up messing about with the camera, again...

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Silver Bream - Breaking the Back of the Big Blank

Since the freeze thawed and temperatures soared to the heady 10, 12 even 13 that degrees we are currently experiencing during daylight and to a lesser degree, nightlight hours, this month has been an awful one for anglers, for no-one is catching much, or even at all. The blogs may give the impression that here and there, now and then, some level of success is being achieved but the truth is that more blanks are happening than are being reported. The fish have been knocked for six by the sudden and rapid change in their habitat and are sulking their squamous little heads off...

Monday, 17 January 2011

The Grandness and the Blandness of Coombe Pool

In the 1770's gangs of Irish Navvies set to work digging massive holes in the ground all over the country. The largest hole they excavated in what is now the City of Coventry is a moot point. It is the near five miles of canal between the centre of town and Longford junction, or else it is Lancelot 'Capability' Brown's masterpiece of a lake at Coombe Abbey.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Canal Roach - Is it Just Me...?

Or has the fishing got really bloody hard since the weather warmed up?

I see the rivers are full of brown water at the moment as all that subsurface H20 that was locked up in a frozen landscape has slowly melted and trickled into the watercourses. I'll wait a while more before having a go for a pound plus roach on the local stream.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Bass 'n' Chips

Bass is expensive, especially wild, fresh, line caught bass which is prohibitively so - the exclusive reserve of millionaires, seals and anglers - so why anyone would want to make fish 'n' chips instead of some TV chef franglais concoction out of such a dainty may be beyond comprehension, until that is, you have tried it. There's no need for us Brits to be shy here, a good old fashioned fish 'n' chip supper properly cooked is a world class dish. This is a variation on the classic theme...

Monday, 10 January 2011

A Cache of Secret Bass

For no good reason at all I decided that I would resurrect my long established but never used, Facebook account. I went on, clicked a few buttons and before I knew what I'd done I'd invited half the world to be a friend of mine. Now I've more friends than I know what to do with - many of them are people I haven't a clue about them being friends of the friends of others, but who I'm now feeling liable for!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

That Sinking Feeling....

I've been cursing the boats that have pestered my local canal and middle Avon fishing for the past couple of years, and so, I'd guess, have many, many other anglers up and down the country. Therefore it's really no surprise to me that all that hex throwing should ultimately be answered from time to time by the laying to waste of the aforementioned offending articles...

Thursday, 6 January 2011

River Roach - The Eternal Shoal

This new year's fishing challenge is warming up even before it's really began. I've entered six scores (for five species, roach twice) in three days and am for the time being, in first place. I don't expect to stay there long... Most of the 16, yes 16, contestants have yet to enter a thing on Keith's all-singing, all-dancing, shared and interactive wunderkind spreadsheet, the like of which I have never encountered in all my days. This is not documents, this is Keith's Finest documents.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Dace, But No Ace

Monday afternoon Keith & I went dace fishing down at the Saxon Mill on the Wark's Avon, a place renowned for its large head of said fish, shoals so vast that they have to be seen to be believed — in summer they inhabit the top layers of water and a low flying coot can cause a massive surface eruption of spooked fish. They can get respectably large too, eleven or twelve ounces being the target with half pounders a likelihood.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Canal Zander & Pike - My Quest for a Big Cut Zed - A Big Fat Mamma

This series has to end here - if ever there was a thing deserving of an alternative moniker, this is it - it's a misnomer!

I can no longer pretend to be fishing the canal for 'a big cut zed' because since I began 'my quest for' such a fish, the fish that I have been catching mostly, and in the size range I was looking for when I began, have been of the species, Esox lucius, and, I'll freely admit that for some time now I have really been hoping to get a big 'un of those and have neglected to think of zeds completely.