The moon & the sledgehammer

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Last summer  I spent the day with author and angler, Dexter Petley, searching out river Lea carp. After many emails sent back and forth from his base camp in Normandy, Dexter finally made it to London while promoting his new book – Love, Madness, Fishing after a thirty year absence. It turned out to be a memorable day (Dexter writes about it in Fallons Angler issue 9) success came in the shape of a large Lea common. I was happy that it was Dexter that caught the near twenty, he only had one chance while I could return anytime, I felt it was the only outcome. What stood out  that day was Dexter’s boyish excitement and confidence in catching a carp, gifted by the fact we had a new moon, perhaps his whispy grey hair and talk of moon phases  captured me, spellbound in some form of carp wizardry? It was a great day, the new moon cast its spell and I became a moon child.

Almost one year on and the river season has commenced, I have been keeping a close eye on the river but the carp have disappeared, perhaps the dry spring sent the carp to deeper more oxygenated waters? On opening day I met with friends Garrett and Tony for a traditional 16th and despite many bream feeding on our groundbait our carp baits only spooked the twitchy bream, the carp were merely ghosts.

So last Saturday we entered a new lunar phase, I woke feeling half-hearted about getting up but the celestial pull took me to the river at a respectable 8.00 am, if the carp were enchanted then hopefully they were still under a spell. I arrived at a usual spot and looked into the river, below were three large carp, boisterous in their swagger as they pushed their way around the swim searching for food, it was the first carp I had seen in a while, their tails in the air, the moon had switched them on, dancing on moonbeams. River carping is not easy but sometimes it all drops into place, it did last year with Dexter and today it looked hopeful. I lowered a bait just one foot from the bank, I felt the line and watched the rod tip, thirty seconds passed and then wham, like a sledgehammer hitting the rod, the tip pulled down as the carp headed downstream, for five knee trembling minutes I fought the carp and finally landed a common, probably just under the twenty pound mark, just like Dexter’s common from last year. The wizardry of carp fishing strikes again!

Summer solstice

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I’m compelled to write a few words on the solstice, a date I regard highly, the longest day and also my daughters birthday. Fallon’s Angler 10 is at the printers and will be dropped through the subscribers letter boxes within the week. This issue we headed towards Wales and shot two films, we rediscovered Cregennan  Lakes after a forty year absence, and met a special lady who has spent a lifetime on the Usk.

Also in issue 10 Chris Yates celebrate his glorious 16th and some new contributors play their part in the Fallon’s story from Wales and beyond.

For now there is a pleasant lull, I’m not racing around the country, I’m fishing locally for river carp, but being nomads they seem to have disappeared, perhaps seeking deep cooler pools while we sit out the hottest heatwave since 1977; I’m happy to sit it out with them…

My canoe is also ready for launch, this may help in seeking new swims that only before I could view from afar, over grown banks and fallen trees obstructing my passage, but first I will have to see if the canoe is stable enough to land a ‘river lurker.’

 

John Richardson of Two Terriers Press – a film.

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Art and the art of angling, I consider this to be a partnership that sits comfortably side by side, just like the landscape and the angler. Here is a new film where I find John Richardson a life-long angler and artist in his West Norfolk studio carving and then printing on his Victorian press, while the Fenland landscape dominates throughout.

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.

Dartmoor trout fishing

Dartmoor trout fishing

Dartmoor trout fishing

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.