It is a while since I last put the time aside to write a Blog, a book chapter and a magazine article interfered and to be quite honest since this latest lock down I have found it difficult to motivate my writing mind angling wise. I have not been able to fish during this latest lockdown period, my last trip was in bitterly cold conditions on Sunday 3rd January and judging by the liners, I had finally found a few fish. Back at work Monday and before I knew it, we were in lockdown and my local water closed its gates for lockdown.
Living alone and working alone during these lockdown periods I must admit I have found it real difficult. I work all week to be able to escape into the outdoors at the weekends. For years I have joked that I go on holiday every Friday and indeed I used to. There have been a few years when I have not actually taken any time off work for a conventional holiday. One of the joys of being self-employed, I guess. You tend to just get on with it and work. I promise myself each year that I will put some weeks in the diary and work around them for a break, but I never do, I haven’t this year either.
The only thing that I think is keeping me sane now is my pre-work morning head clearing walks. I ‘m thankful that I only need to do a short pavement walk before being loose in open fields, woods and hills in one direction and open fields a river and canal in the other direction. I am at least able to get my fresh air fix far away from others in pleasing surroundings without having to drive.
I have walked my local area over the past 20 years but still spot different things, there are always the surprises. The deer for example are rarely seen, but such a treat when I do see them. Last week whilst stood on my door mat with hat, coat, and boots on trying to force a hot cup of tea down my throat which was too hot for me (I’m a wimp with hot drinks), I suddenly thought, why don’t I walk for 30 minutes to a nice view and sit and enjoy my first brew there in no rush whilst watching nature doing whatever it wants to reveal to me. So, this week I have been doing that, making the first brew whilst out and about and I now kick myself for not doing it in the past.
I have mentioned all of this on purpose as there are a lot of anglers out there unable to fish, stuck inside, perhaps in a busy built-up area, desperate for escape and fresh air. It has really ground me down this time around, yet I am still getting my outdoor fix. Please check up on those you know are alone, last week I had the awful news that a friend of mine had taken his own life. Tim loved the outdoor life and had been in the fortunate position to be able to travel the world fulfilling dreams with various species of fish on his bucket list. In fact, my last trip to France was spent with Tim and Fennel at Quarry Bank Fishery which we had booked as an exclusive for ourselves. There was some great banter between the three of us planning that trip. The messages in the WhattsApp group we set up would almost fill a book. It made such a great and pleasant change for me to be spending the week with someone who had some incredible angling stories but not carp ones. Hours were passed at Quarry Bank sharing stories. Tim was as keen to hear carp and coarse fish stories as I was to hear his mainly game angling ones both here and in far off climes.
Tim’s free spirit had been grounded all through last year and the inability to be able to escape to recharge the batteries between other life pressure events obviously became too much. A great angler gone well before his prime at such a young age.
There are lots out there who will not shout out for help. Please try and be the one offering it, so they never need to ask. Just a catch up on the telephone will show them that people really do care about them during these incredibly difficult times.
Since my last ‘diary’ piece which covered August 2020, I have caught a fair few fish. If I ran a blow-by-blow account of them all it would all become a little repetitive and certainly too long for a Blog, so I will save some of it for the book and look more at how I was catching. I was trying to balance my time between two different waters in September and October and each responded to different methods. My Paradise Pit fish were mostly falling to a new bait that we have not actually released yet called Rock Pool Rahja which is a blended fish, bird food and shellfish bait. I was catching on simple out the bag bottom baits on widespread beds of bait. A couple fell to solitary pop-ups of the same bait on known patrol areas, but the most action was coming to the beds of boilies both whole and halved. As regular readers of mine will know I rarely fish with ‘dry bait’ preferring to soak liquids into my boilies before my trips simply to expand and open the pores to allow the important ingredients to do their bit that much quicker.
Finally, for 2021 we are going to release some of these ‘Boilie Overcoats’ ready blended for you. The Paradise Pit fish were enjoying them during a rather difficult period judging by the few other fish that were being landed.
I carried on fishing at The Paradise Pit until turning my main attention to the much deeper Stobbart’s as the weather began to turn colder with the first signs of winter. Tactics needed to change a little if past experiences were anything to go by and this meant reducing the feed levels a little. I do like to fish over bait, but this venue had been seeing a lot of it from others without the number of fish turning up to indicate that this would be the best approach. So, I went in a little sparser with bait and spread it well rather than the regimental pockets of Spombed bait which seemed the norm’.
This worked for me and I brought more attention to my hook bait with paste wraps impregnated with different things I was experimenting with.
Before I knew it, Xmas was upon us and we all know just how cold it got over Xmas here in the middle part of the U.K.
I lost a fish a couple of days before Xmas and then pulled out of another just after Xmas. It had been my own fault being sure the fish were getting away with it, I juggled around with the rigs that have served me so well for so long and yes, I did hook fish, but they did not stay hooked. I had gone too small with the hooks.
What should have been me seeing the year out with a bang, saw me seeing the year out in hard gained fish losses. We all must take the rough with the smooth, not everything goes to plan.
So, here we are to-day. I have been unable to wet a line for a while and my heart really is not into my writing, but I wanted to pen something in memory of Tim and even if just one person picks up the phone to check on someone, then that could be just enough to save someone. Yes, I am feeling the guilt for not talking or even messaging Tim for a while.
Rest in paradise mate, that return trip never happened, but it will do in your memory.
Keep safe everyone