Saturday, 28 June 2014

Summer Chubbing — Twice Bitten, Once Shy

Somewhere over the far bank there's a party going on. Bright and breezy music drifting across the reed choked river. In my swim there's a party going on too with every chub in the neighbourhood jumping on my bait like it's the only food they've seen since Christmas.

I'm doing what I always do when confronted with a new stretch and that's flicking bread about here and there to ascertain potential. There's no bait quite as good for this, though few bother. If its full of roach you'll get tippity taps, crammed with dace then 4 inch bangs, chub alley then huge bouncing twangs and the lot mixed with added gudgeon then a bewildering array of all and every kind of bitey thang.

Of course I really want roach. There's none here, So I move one swim down and flick into the middle of what has to be a proper roach swim — boring looking. Which is just what they like in my experience. A smooth sheet of water with even flow bank to bank and of middling depth. Roach are so suburban in their housing choices, aren't they?

Once I've taken all the chub out of it I finally catch a number of lovely redfins but they're hard won with very few bites between fish. Not big, not small, but proof I've found another glide with potential come wintertime. That established I decide to fish all out for chub. and in chubby looking places where roach won't be.

Mid evening the music carried on the soft summer breeze changes. No longer the chipper anthems of the hopeful optimist but the doleful dirges of the defeated pessimist. I guess Costa Rica has just wiped its arse flushing both an Italian turd and England's bog paper thin World Cup presence down the toilet pan...

The party over there is over, but not over here where the chub are having a ball! I just can't fail catching them.  One after the other they fall. Martin fishing for barbel experiences similar. Chub, chub and yet more chub. In near pitch black we pack down but the party would have carried on and on all night long if only we'd stayed on.

Next session you'd have thought things might be the same, wouldn't you? Well, midday torrential rain here and there in the river catchment had put half a foot on it and added a nice tinge of colour so it looked better than before. It looked so bloody perfect in fact you'd have sworn it would also fish better than before, but that wasn't to be the case...

I find bites plentiful from the outset but just can't hook them and when I hit what I think is a dace bite but find myself attached to a big chub instead, it throws the hook. It's impossible fishing. Hundreds of twitches and twangs struck at — four good chub hooked — but every single one lost to slight hook holds.

Unlike Mr Suaraz, in today's game they just aren't chomping down hard enough to fall foul.

And it carries on that way till the big black cloud arrives ditching a million tons of cold water onto slate and tarmac turning the water from healthy green to deathly grey within the hour when bites peter out for good. Fish do know what's coming well in advance, I'm sure...

The gathering storm...

The lightning is great fun though. The deepest bass note of one clap of thunder actually moves the water, I swear! There's even a baby tornado.

Narrowly avoided a drenching (neither of us has brought a brolly us being optimists!) thankfully the storm skims past just a half mile distant. You'd have sworn it would hit our swims head on the way the cloud behaved but with such storms that produce tornadoes, as an insignificant speck on the ground looking heavenward, you see the rotation of the system not the general drift of the whole massive thing.

The storm passed by

The fishing never recovers (it never was very well) but around dusk with thick mist rising all around, bored with the lack of action and wandering about dejectedly, we discover something brand new and rather exciting that we hadn't bargained for.

But that's another story, for another time...

Monday, 23 June 2014

Canvas Design — My Kind of Trophy Shot

Do you remember this picture and my promise to explain what the hell we were up to in it?

They are of course canvas prints. Mine's hung over my desk for a month now. The fresh-off-the-printer inks have toned down just so and are now exactly as they should be and very, very close to those of the original picture. The stretcher hasn't warped or skewed so much as a millimetre. No tears or holes have appeared. I have to say that I like it very much!

Considering that the file sent for my print was a very small low resolution copy of an large original picture lost in a disastrous computer crash some time ago, it has come out rather well. Jaggy straight edges and a distinct lack of sharpness are bound to be very visible in a jpeg file that's blown up from very small to quite large — in this case nine times larger than the original — but the canvas weave does a good job of compensating for that. Actually, the combination of weave and compression artefacts is quite nice, lending a painterly softness that suits the subject matter. Smooth paper would not have been so forgiving.

Approximately actual size on my screen and the fish the size of a small chublet — surprised it came out so well blown up large enough to make the fish almost full size in the 24x20 inch print.  

Martin's hangs on his wall too, but downstairs in the dining room. His better half really likes it, probably because his smile is priceless. The file was full resolution so no problems there then. It's just as sharp as you'd expect it to be.

I chose mine out of thousands of alternative pictures because I like the unintentional visual pun of a chub who's apparently eaten my rod or been impaled upon it. I also like the background and the colour values which are just exactly those of a bright day by the River Itchen where it was caught. It was a no brainer really.

I chose Martin's from my own stock of images of him, without his knowledge, then presented it as a gift the day we went to the lake where the picture was taken. He was pleasantly surprised!

A trophy is not a trophy without explanatory text — where the fish was caught, its size, date of capture, etc — so that was incorporated in Photoshop along the bottom edge. I was thinking of adding our monikers too, just as a captor's name would have been included for a cased stuffed fish, but thought that overkill, especially in my case because it was just a mid four-pounder and not a specimen fish.

For anyone thinking of doing the same with a low res picture, I made the tiny 72 dpi file up to 300 dpi so that text placed on top would be pin sharp. Otherwise it would look truly ghastly with horrible jaggy edges spoiling the whole thing. With pictures there's quite some leeway but no one can abide a fuzzy typeface.

Conrad McKee of Canvas Design, who offered to make these prints for me has done a really great job of them you know, and they do sit well on the wall. Therefore, I recommend them to you wholeheartedly.

This is your discount code saving you 15% on the deal — idler15

Click on the link below to find out more...

Canvas Design

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