This summer has seen my camera by my side more often than not, here I was capturing Paul Cook at his workshop and on the Wensum with one of his hand built fly rods…
With limited time to go fishing there is always pressure to get it right and make the trip successful, you never know when the next trip will be? In an ideal world I would have a few different rods set up for different situations and a river or lake at the end of my garden to fish from. I could be in constant contact with the water observing the fauna and pre-baiting some chosen areas, then spend short sessions of a hour or two. Unfortunately that isn’t going to happen.
My main place to fish is in Sussex, if I leave London at 6.00am I can get from my front door to the lake in one hour. My problem is I have no idea how the lake is fishing and I don’t have the luxury of pre-baiting so this un-known element brings on a sense of uncertainty and indecision can set in (making decisions is not one of my strong points). I like to travel light but with unknown conditions I tends to take too many baits and probably a rod or two too many.
This weekend I was going to head down to Sussex and try for the tench and some of the larger rudd but on the Thursday I was struck down with some weird 24 hour bug which scuppered all my plans to fish. On the Saturday morning I woke up at 5.30 am bright as new penny and thought, what the heck, its a beautiful day, sunny with some mist, perfect. With only sweetcorn in the house I grabbed my rucksack (always ready to go), four tins of Green Giant, a small bag of food and tea making equipement and two rods. This last minute decision stopped me from taking too much tackle and bait. Freedom!
7.00 am I arrived, peace….
At lunchtime my chance of a tench was fading but the carp were showing on the top…
By mid-afternoon it was hot but walking around with the simplest of kit, a rucksack and one rod, crouching down on the long wet grass under the shade, this is how I remember fishing to be as a teenager.
Although I do dabble throughout the closed season, the 16th June is still a special date for any traditional angler, and there is no other species that epitomises traditional angling than a good wildie.
Today I was travelling ‘heavy’ as I was taking two rods, a Mark IV Avon with a Ambidex Mark 6 loaded with 8lb line and a James Aspindale Carp Delux with an old Slater latch from around a hundred years ago, loaded with 10lb line.
It was not an early start but it was my way of showing some respect to the closed season, so from about half past Saturday Live I arrived at a rather small and I am afraid to say secretive pond in the south east of England. From the start I saw signs of wild carp (as this water seems to only contains them) high in the water searching for food. How wild these creatures are, I do not know but they certainly take on the classic torpedo shape, large heads, small bodies and big tails. The size in this lake does not exceed 10lb and to be honest I’ve not seen one over 7lb but this is not the point, they are so beautiful, an antidote to ‘Heather the Leather’ and ‘Fat Lady’, wild carp are exquisite…
The final few hours were spent with the old Aspindale rod and Slater Latch, bread cast out into the lilies, a slurp, a splash and then a clitter clatter of an old centre pin reel as line streamed out…
With four days off this Jubilee weekend I had to get out and fish, I am now pre-occupied with catching a London canal carp. The trick is stay mobile, travel light and keeping looking.
This weekend I was out twice, on one occasion I didn’t wet a line and on the other occasion I did after spotting three ‘doubles’. So far the results are in the favour of carpus maximus! But this is a cathartic practice, the process is to be embraced, the results will come soon…I’m sure of it! I am starting to sense the carp and their where abouts.
Many years back I dated a young lady near the town of Tisbury in Wiltshire, conveniently her father, a retired colonel was a member of his local fishing club on the River Nadder.
After a few visits to Wiltshire, approval was finally given to join him for a day’s fly fishing as a guest on the Nadder run by the Teffont Fishing Club.
Armed with my Millward Flylite split cane rod and a selection of dry flies bought from Farlow’s of Pall Mall the previous day, we set off in search of brown’s and grayling. That day local knowledge prevailed and the colonel caught several trout and graying, eventually I managed to hook a lone lady, thankfully my dry-fly fishing skills didn’t let me down that day. Walking back that evening the colonel told me about the history of this little twisting stream, looking back now, I forget most of the detail but one thing I always remember was the name, Nadder, a name given after the adder snake common in the Wiltshire district. The shape of the adder similar to that of the river, with its twists and turns. True? maybe, maybe not but I like the tale.
Here we have Jack Hargreaves dry-fly fishing on the Nadder delivered in his own unique gentle manner and hooking a rather fine dace.
Sometimes the summer slips by too soon or just never seems to really heat up, this year it seems to be a case of both. So when a fellow piscator friend of mine invited me for three days on the Wye, I grabbed the opportunity for a late summer session.
I’m lucky, as the spot on the Wye near Hereford belongs to my friend’s parents. I spent a week there last year so I knew what to expect and more importantly I knew this stretch of the Wye.
A Georgian house sits one hundred meters back from the river, where a large sloping garden meanders down through an orchard and then through some over-grown shrubbery to the river bank. This makes fishing very comfortable, a cast or two for a few hours then back up to the house for diner, a glass of wine (or two) and then returning to the river, grabbing a few plums along the way and back to our quarry, barbel.
Rods were held high using very long bank sticks, bites are so severe that the bend in the rod or a ‘churner’ from the reel is enough to tell you a fish is hooked, at night Starlites were attached to the rod tip. No bite alarms, simple.
Traditionalist look away now! The terminal end consists of PVA bags, hair rigs, pellets, boillies, braided hook links and chemically edged wide gape hooks when presenting a bait. The general technique on the Wye was to use two small 8mm pellets, hair rigged with a PVA mesh bag attached containing 4mm pellets, this was cast out on most occasions.
Traditionalist, you can look back now!
Rod and reel consisted of an Allcocks Carp Superb and a Mitchel 410. Cane rods fit well in a natural environment and performs just how I need them to, soft on the strike but as the cane loads with pressure it comes to a stop and then becomes a powerful tool to land bigger fish, this is certainly true on the Wye and the barbel.
Fishing for three days undisturbed, allows you to approach the whole experience in a different light, as you have time on your side.
Firstly, building up a swim can be done methodically adding ground bait in certain areas, resting them for half a day. The theory is that smaller fish arrive instantly and hoover up the smaller ‘cloud’ of ground bait, the activlty from the smaller fish attract the larger fish which move in and start feeding on the bigger offerings in the ground bait mix. At this point after allowing the swim to ‘rest’ another bombardment of ground bait is delivered along with a hook bait. This baiting technique leaves the barbel competing for food and then it’s just a case of waiting…
Also, a three day session can allow you to really get to know the river as the day progresses, observing patterns with the fauna, a peregrine hovers at dusk over the opposite bank for small mammals or possibly a chance sighting of a fish. Salmon were leaping at night although at times it was hard to distinguish between salmon or a carp, either way the splashes created were immense. On one occasion we saw a salmon leap in the late afternoon, it’s silver and pink flanks defining it’s status.Understanding the feeding patterns of the barbel was our priority and it seemed on this trip the evenings were most productive. At night we had some success with the barbel but generally it did tail off and the chub moved in. Fishing during the day was slower but still resulted in a few barbel including one I had on the last morning, I had a hunch to get up and have a final go and literally on the last cast caught a lovely seven pound specimen, a nice ending to the trip.
Three days resulted in some great fish all in pristine condition and all hard fighting, no rods were lost although it was close on a few occasions. The Wye is a great river to fish, in summer it generally glides past but as the autumn rains start it can quickly become quite a brown torrent of fast flowing water, my return to the Wye will hopefully be in October when the river becomes a little more angry…