Barbed wire & no stingers – small river chubbing part II.

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It goes like this…got woken up; “daddy can I go and see nana?” “yes, go on then” I mumble. I go downstairs, boil kettle, find cup, clatter, spoon, rattle coffee packet, pour…flick through newspaper, celebrities, celebrities, celebrities, war, fear, sport; put paper down, slurp. Find car keys, phone, charger lead, bait, rod and bag. Car door clunks, press ‘engine on’, radio 4 starts up, Saturday morning live, more people banter on, “I’m this, I did that,” more views, more pop culture. Satnav kicks in, “turn left”, “go straight ahead”, light flashes, diesel low, refuel, more bleeps, find wallet, enter kiosk, banging house FM, choose shite sandwich, more bleeps, pay, go. Satnav pillow talk kicks in again, M42, turn off, road narrows, see church in distance, my bearings found, satnav off, radio off, window down, turn corner, river flows, coloured but fining down, pull up, switch off engine, open door, step out, calm, peace, just me, no one, stillness, an antidote…perhaps this is why I go fishing?

Last summer I went small river chubing on the River Mease and wrote about it here, it was hot, the stingers were high but the chub were obliging. Six months on, and spring still a few weeks away I have returned, I wanted to see the river in it winter dress, and hopefully seek out a greedy winter chub.

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The trees were  magnificent, bare open branches silhouetted on a battleship sky, on the horizon – a hint of blue, the water is coloured but not chocolate, days before the river had flooded the fields but now the river was once again contained. After trotting a float for a while I set up my 10′ avon with a quiver and walked the river dropping a swimfeeder  into some deep holes. I am still unfamiliar with the river Mease but eventually after an hour a chub came to the net.

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Epping Forest ponds

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The ponds of Epping are quite familiar to me, many of which I have fished over the years but after being taken to Warren pond last week I had forgotten how atmospheric these waters are. Some are well known and others are quite insignificant, so to honour them equally I have decided to document them over the next year. Here we have Warren pond in the first two images and lastly The Lost pond or Blackweir as it is officially called. Personally I like the name Lost pond because it sits in the forest unconnected to any path or track.

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A tale of two rivers – film

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Producing films about angling is a challenge. One, there is always the task of catching fish for the camera, but there is a more complex challenge. How does one represent angling and create an engaging narrative when the act of fishing in realtime is generally a slow one? As a format film is not the ideal way to represent angling unless the editing and narrative has a pace that holds an audience. Literature on the other hand has always led the way when it comes to capturing the nuances in angling, the reader reads, imagines and considers the prose, the pace it set by the reader, literature is more personal and intimate unlike film. Film is an end interpretation created generally by a collective of people, the result is often diluted.

In my opinion, angling film makers fall into a few traps, the all-action – lets make fishing exciting and the slo-mo style with elevating music, the later can be visually stunning but leaves the viewer slightly detached, engagement surely is the answer? The writer must be the key to the film.  This year I made three film on angling, far from perfect on many levels, some fundamental mistakes were made on all, but looking to the future I am working with Fallons Angler and those I can trust who write well, (I really think writing is the key) I hope to put together some short films in 2017 that will captivate both the angler and non-angler.

 

On this day 18th November 2016 – The men of Clapton.

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During the 1914-1915 season the entire team of Clapton Orient signed up to the front line, forty one in total, the highest en-masse conscription in the country from a football team.  The final game saw a 20,000 strong crowd to see off ‘their boys’, George Scott, William Jonas and Richard McFadden  made the ultimate sacrifice, while many of the Clapton Orient men were unable to play football again. The original Clapton stadium was located just 200 yards from where I now live and yards from the River Lea. Later Clapton Orient moved to the Speedway site off Lea Bridge Road and then soon after moved to Leyton where the club changed its name to Leyton Orient. Lest we forget.

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Shooting in the field

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The last year has been an interesting one, I’ve taken off into the field with the aim to shoot video and stills for various projects, one re-accuring challenge is with Fallon’s Angler, it has been…well challenging. The beauty of modern technology is that everything is relatively compact and lightweight although some camera systems have now got smaller, glass is glass and it can still weigh a fair amount,  the task of packing it down so that I can move freely on foot and keep in step with roving anglers is an art in itself. In the summer Fallon’s Angler set off by foot onto Dartmoor, I had to carry fishing gear, camera equipment, food, water, bedding and my house.  I’m not one to weigh everything down to the last gramme but I made sure I took only the absolute essentials, my only luxury was a hip flask of Laphroig, the hip flask was given to me by my father, and if you knew him you would understand that this was to be the professional drinkers 10 oz version! Unusually the hip flask returned from Dartmoor with almost half of it’s content untouched.

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Image courtesy of Bruno Vincent

On the Dartmoor  trip I took a Fuji X Pro 1 mirrorless system with just two lenses a 16-55mm and a 55-200mm, I love this camera but it falls down when it comes to shooting video, the trip was a stills only shoot and the Canon had to stay at home. Below are a few shots that didn’t make the final edit and covered to black and white, the article for issue 7 included a mix of colour and black and white.

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Dartmoor trout fishing

Dartmoor trout fishing

Dartmoor trout fishing

My next challenge was to put together a compact system that can shoot good quality video and audio as a one-man band. The problem with shooting video is you need a few lens options, microphones, field recorders, monopods, tripods with  pan heads, the list can go on and as the list increases so does the weight, my nemesis was whether to  pack a rod amongst my camera gear?

Shooting video in the field

For those observant types, actually its fairly obvious the image above has the additional baggage of a fishing bag, rod and reel, below is the actual gear that I would take on the field to shoot video once packed up and ready to go, no fishing gear

Shooting video in the field

Last weekend we set off again for Fallons issue 8, our destination has an eastern direction, what we uncovered was a mystery just like fishing itself, we didn’t know the outcome until it was done, but we met some interesting individuals and seen some places  that have formed the story, my job was to get it on film both with stills and on video, the tale of two rivers is unfolding as I sit here and view the edits.

Carp fishing & the Lea – summer 2016

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IMG_5294-1Having no car to drive for the first half of this year focused my attention on my local river – the Lower Lea,  potential swims were scrutinise more closely than ever before. The trips planned were to be frequent and short, tackle was set up and ready to go, a bicycle permanently rested in the basement, attached to the cross bar – a modified 42″ landing net, a three piece 10′ Allcocks spinning rod strong enough for hard fighting carp and a very long bank stick – in fact its a storm pole off a bivvy door, although I must confess I’m not too sure what the original purpose of it is, I’m guessing it is a method to sure up the door on a bivvy when a tornado hits? Anyhow I saw it in a tackle shop a few years back and thought it perfect for holding a rod high on the river bank, it has proven very useful when barbel fishing. A shoulder bag contains a reel, camera, polaroids, and an old bait box with all the accessories that a modern angler needs to trap a carp. Finally an old green bucket holds a mixture of baits and doubles as my seat.

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Before the season began I kept a close eye on the river and by mid May I could see signs of carp, I also came across one or two other anglers discretely looking with intent, on occasions a few words were exchanged but generally we all kept to the unwritten code of ‘keep quiet and carry on.’  You can find carp quite easily from Broxbourne (and probably beyond) down into Hackney and through central London and out the other side, all you need is a warm sunny day, a bicycle and a some  polaroids, I will guarantee you will find carp within a few hours of riding, whether they are feeding though is another question.

My time on the river since June 16th has probably totalled to about 7-8 hours,  each trip amounts to only a couple of hours but it suits my freelance routine, I can drop my daughter off at school and pop down to the Lea or nip out during lunch time. So far I have not managed to get on the river early morning or at dusk, something I want to remedy in August. The Lower Lea also holds a large head of good sized bream, the ‘silvers’ have all but vanished but I had heard that 5000 dace have been introduced by the EA to the lower Lea catchment in the close season, lets hope that they thrive.

To date I had a couple of carp at the start of the season, notably a linear on the 16th June, and a few days later a common, both fish were  around 7-8 pounds, these fish are very long and strong fighters, but these were the smallest of the carp that I have seen. I have observed a few fish well into their twenties and one or two that could be in their thirties, I had some heart-stopping moments with the polaroids  when these larger carp were feeding hard on my bait, frustratingly these moments were cherished under the cloak of the closed season. IMG_5258-1

August will soon arrive and after a short holiday I will attempt to get back on the river to continue my quest to catch one of the larger fish, but I must confess after cycling down to the river over the last week I have not seen a fish, my theory is that  after a heatwave they move into faster flowing and deeper water where oxygen levels are higher, making observations next to impossible. But I have a cunning plan…

Barbed wire, stingers, flies & heat – summer river chubbing

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The first signs of a heatwave hit England on Sunday and I was in the West Midlands seeking to winkle out a chub from the river Mease, a tiny meandering river that can be fished on a Birmingham Anglers Association day ticket. The Mease flows past the village of Netherseal that sits in classic open english countryside just half an hours drive from Central Birmingham.
NethersealI fancied a break from my current search for large river Lea carp, the Lea sadly contains very few chub in it’s lower reaches and I felt that I needed to be re-introduced since my last chance meeting on the Kennet last winter. My approach of trotting with a heavy chubber float, keeping the bread flake low in the water took me on a good mile long walk along its meandering course, the water was low and I saw no sign of a chub despite my stealthy approach of keeping low, pushing back the stingers and opening up small gaps in the undergrowth to expose tiny swims. With no luck I started to turn back and fish the swims that I had previously baited with bread and maggots, finally I saw  a chub dart up and take a maggot, despite the sun getting hotter and brighter I knew there was a chance of a fish.

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fishing_bagThe BAA do a great job in providing access over the barbed wire fences that follow the meanders of the river Mease but once over the fence you are right up to your neck in stingers, luckily stinging nettles push over quite easily and with a little care you can form an opening by placing your net and fishing bag down to create relatively pain-free platform.  I was now fishing the stick float on a slow drop using a button shirt shot pattern, I continued to trickle in the maggots and soon started to observe the chub darting out unable to contain their hunger for an easy meal. On my second cast I was into a chub of around the 3/4 pound, then another and another, each one getting a little larger.

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Surrounded by stinging nettles and the temperatures increasing the whole experience was becoming quite intense, flies were becoming more persistent as they buzzed around my face, sweat dripped from my brow, there was no place to retreat unless I got back up the bank and over the barbed wire fence, this would have broken my cover and spooked the chub, so I stayed low and continued to fish. For the next hour I caught ten to fifteen chub, the largest no more than a pound and a half, but on a light line and stick float this was fun fishing that reminded me of my summer holidays as a lad fishing on the Sussex Ouse. Finally I dropped a chub amongst the stingers, I had no option but to bury my hand into a clump of nettles and quickly pick it up, the pain was bearable, I was after all fishing and very little could deter me, but as the heat rose further and the flies grew in numbers I finally called it a day.

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Fallons Angler 6 – “getting better all the time”.

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Words once penned by Lennon and McCartney but it is true, Fallon’s Angler is getting so much better. It’s been just over a year since I started  working with Garrett Fallon on the publication, searching  out a narrative that has balance in our multi-layered world of angling. With so many specialist areas, attitudes, and outcomes each issue is a challenge but as stories unfold and content collected  we feel we are growing a personality that  our readers now feel akin to. Each month we discover new writers, photographers, anglers and artists that fit the Fallon’s Angler ethos, although to say we have an ethos could put up boundaries so perhaps we could label it as the Fallon’s Angler spirit?

Personally it has made me look closely at how lucky us anglers are, with multiple options we can use a fishing trip as a springboard to be immersed in nature, an elixir giving douche for the anglers soul.  Meeting the Fallon’s anglers over the last year has made me want to vary my own angling and shy away from my normal habits, spice it up a little, take on the unknown and most importantly share it with others. The tuesday swim has always been about seeking out the less obvious elements in fishing, to seek out “otherlyness,” (if its not a word it is now) but now I want the tuesday swim to branch out and consider the landscape as important as the fishing, something that Fallon’s Angler is already in the process of undertaking in some of our forthcoming articles, this summer we will take on the landscape by canoe, by foot over the moors, and by sea kayak.  Our skies are becoming larger, bringing new ideas to our readers, celebrating the past (as we have done in issue 6 with our tribute to Fred Buller) and embracing the future. The art of angling is ever changing but the deep down urge to fish has remained unchanged for millennia. And if you can’t get out but still have that burning desire I hope that Fallon’s Angler is the next best thing.

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Issue 6 is out today, it looks stunning with our new and improved print process the images are now singing from the pages partnered with words carefully choreographed by amongst others, Danny Adcock, John Andrews, Carlos Baz, Domonic Garnett, Andrew Griffith, Ted Hughes, Dexter Petley, Maurice Neil, Graham Vassey, Chris Yates and words on Fred Buller from Jon Berry, Garrett Fallon and David Profumo.

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