Shaun Harrison's July 2022 Diary Blog
What a month that one was, here in the U.K. Temperatures hit record levels and our ladies football team did so incredibly well in the football. I am sure the whole nation must be so proud of our amazing Lioness’s. I even packed up fishing early to be able to get home to watch them win the final on a proper screen, rather than the telephone screen on the bank. Oh yes, I also caught a load of carp!
So, July started off with me biting at the bit to get back out on the bank. It had been two weeks since I had wet a line with missing out on a weekend whilst attending the British Carp Study Group 2022 A.G.M. These are brilliant 2-night social affairs with the actual A.G.M. held in the middle of this. This year’s event was no exception and the first time we had been able to gather in numbers for a couple of years because of the various social distancing precautions. Even so, a very small handful of our members did come down with Covid after the event. So please all, be very careful still in what you choose to do and attend.
Back on the bank, I was keen to pick up from where I had left off. I had found an approach that seemed to be sorting out a larger than average size of fish on the main two venues I have been spending most of my time on. But I had been suffering with my lower back since the A.G.M. and by the time I had set up on the Friday, I was in a lot of pain. Feeling sorry for myself I turned in for an early night. Saturday morning, I lay in bed working out how to get out of it with the least possible pain when a rod with a Rock Pool Rahja bottom bait, straight out of the bag, on a small and very loose catapult baiting of the same, came to life. Well, that got me out of bed quicker than I had anticipated.
The carp in this venue have been fighting ridiculously hard this year, which is all good news, showing how incredibly healthy they appear to be. I will admit I had to be very careful netting that fish, not wanting to upset my back anymore, but all went well. It was only when lifting it out onto the mat and taking a couple of pictures, that it occurred to me that I’d not felt any extra pain. It only then dawned on me that it was probably my kidney playing up again. Suddenly it all started to make sense. It had started after the A.G.M. where I had hardly drunk anything other than cider and wine. I suffered with kidney stones in mid pandemic and for obvious reasons I fought against going into hospital and rode the worst of the pain and blockages out. It was horrible, but things did eventually ease. I guess I must have managed to pass some but can’t honestly say I was aware I had. Yesterday had been bad and indeed it is Friday’s when I don’t drink enough water through the day.
I get up early to sort my gear for the weekend and tend to rush about a bit trying to get any last-minute essential work sorted before hopefully getting away earlier than usual. I’m often set up late afternoon when I realise, I have often not drunk anything since my first brew of the day.
With the fish returned I had to take some pain killers. I always carry them but can’t remember when I last had to take any – probably when my kidney stone issue was at its worst over a year ago. I also started to get as much liquid inside of me as I could and had drunk my usual weekend quota of water by late Saturday afternoon, by which time I had caught another carp as well.
Sunday morning, I felt so much better than I had Saturday and could fully enjoy my third carp of the session although not feeling pain free by any means. It was simply more tolerable than it had been.
Monday, I woke in a bad way again and it got worse. Wednesday I was that bad that I ended up rushed into the doctors. It was even hurting me to breathe, the pain being between my hip and ribs on the right-hand side. After tests I was told I had put my back out and trapped a nerve, yet I’d done nothing to put it out. I know all about trapped nerves as I have suffered with my neck most of my adult life. This felt different.
Back home I forced myself to drink a ridiculous amount of water until it was almost a constant flow, I did this Thursday as well, as I was so determined to get myself in a position to be able to get back on the bank with less pain. By Friday morning my urine was relatively clear again and I felt semi okay. This session I knew could be tricky. I knew the water I was fishing was going to have another batch of blue dye going in on the Friday evening. Now I don’t personally like fishing when it has just gone in, but I was in a state of mind where I just wanted to be left alone and as few visitors as possible. This water gave me that option. Oh yes, I came to get my bait out and realised I had left it at home so had to attack the emergency supply that had been in the motor for months. Not ideal with the vast and regular temperature changes it had been subjected to, but there was no way I was driving home.
Suffice to say I blanked and an interesting observation in as much as the Rock Pool Rahja, if put in the right places will be jostled about by caddis larvae and snails. Hook baits come back heavily pot marked where the critters have been getting stuck in. This is a massive bonus attractant for the carp. My baits were left alone by everything. Sunday afternoon there were a couple of small-bore holes in one bait, but nothing like normal. Perhaps it is the critters that don’t tolerate the dye as well as the carp.
Health wise I still wasn’t right and ended up back in for more blood tests. I usually walk over the fields and up the steep wooded hill each morning before work. I am out on average for an hour and a half but had been unable to do this whilst my health had suffered. Instead, I had been getting my daily outdoor fix visiting my cabin. At least I was able to get there for a head clearing first brew of the day, instead of drinking my first after a walk up the hill.
The following weekend I was again loaded and ready to go. My diary reads…
“Conditions really do look hopeless, but I need to get away from what I know will be two days of screaming kids playing in the neighbours pool”.
It was the start of the run up to those record-breaking high temperatures that saw the U.K. push the thermometer over 40 c in several places. My highlight of the weekend, apart from what I cooked myself outdoors, was managing to capture with my phone camera, another kingfisher sat on my rods. I have only managed this a handful of times despite trying loads of time. Usually, I spook them reaching for the camera.
The following week I slept outdoors most nights, no fishing tackle, I just couldn’t bare to be indoors. The temperature in the shade had hit 39.7 c in my garden. I have experienced it hotter overseas, but it hadn’t felt as hot as it did here – if that makes sense. On the hottest day, I showered early morning after returning from a night in the hammock and never actually got dry again before towelling myself back down for another night outdoors in the hammock. At least there was a minor chill to the air in the early hours outdoors.
By Thursday and Friday, the air temperatures were forecast to hit a maximum of 20 c and with the falling air pressure and me finally feeling much better, I just couldn’t wait to get back out with the rods. After blanking the previous 2 weekends, it wasn’t a case of wondering if I would catch, but a case of how many? Don’t get me wrong, the water is far from being considered easy and we have some members who only get a couple of chances a year, but I had got to know this place quite well and my current approach has really been legging them up whilst doing things quite different to how I see the others fish it.
My Land Rover suddenly lost power on the M1 and the temperature gauge hit maximum. I was on one of the ‘Smart’ sections with no hard shoulder. Suddenly it seemed far from being a smart motorway to me with nowhere to get out of the usual busy Friday afternoon carnage. I was so loathe/scared to stop and fortunately a short section of hard shoulder loomed. I was able to coast into this out of the main onslaught of lorries.
I had split a hose. Leaving things to cool down I had to make the decision. I had 10 litre extra water with me compared to usual, because of the kidney issues which were eased so long as I drank lots of it (the doctors are still convinced I have a trapped nerve though). I could wait for the engine to cool, fill it with cold water and switch venues to one only a couple of miles away. Fill with water and continue my journey and hope I have enough water. Or be sensible and drive it home.
I looked at the weather again and continued my journey. I guess one day I might grow up and become sensible. I’m not holding my breath though. It was a massive relief to lock the final gate behind me. I had made it to the venue I had wanted to be at.
Saturday morning, I heard a faint buzzing in my ear, I swatted my ear thinking it was yet another mozzie, but the noise continued. Sudden panic, it was my right-hand spool spinning. The battery had died in my alarm. I usually get a light flashing to warn me when the battery is low in power. All I can presume is that it had been that bright, I couldn’t have noticed it. I was fortunate, there were several islands that fish could have gone around, but it took the safest route possible, and I was able to pump it back with hardly an issue other than the line pinging of various bars as the free running lead had become temporarily caught up a couple of times. Once again, a single bottom bait fished over just a light random scattering of the same on my usual reverse combi rig.
The first fish came at around 5 am and the second at 8am, both earlier than has been the norm’ for me there. The middle and right-hand rod had produced but my banker left rod hadn’t. When I eventually wound in, the lead and bait stunk horrible on my banker rod. It must have landed in something very dead. To be fair my marker knot (I never clip up) was around 10 ft too far, I’d mis-cast but received what seemed like a decent ‘donk’ on the rod tip so had left it there. I guess it had hit bone among rotting flesh - big mistake.
Next fish came on that rod in the correct spot. That made it a fish on each, all in very different types of area. I call that a result. What had started out as a stressed out drive there, turned into a lovely chilled out session with me starting to feel much better at last. I filled the Land Rover back up with water before leaving and I can tell you it was again a massive relief to eventually pull up on my drive at home. I had taken a gamble with my motor but had won.
There seems to have been a lot of weekends this July as it both started and ended on a weekend.
My final weekend again saw me hook 5 plus a bonus 8 lb fully spawned out tench. I don’t mind the tench here as it took me many years to land my first one here, and we catch so few. They can hardly be considered a pest.
The first carp this trip came whilst I was still catapulting my Rock Pool Rahja’s in. Now I know this is a common scenario on hungry waters, but this place is far from hungry and is the first time in almost ten years this has happened to me here. I took it as a good omen that they really want what I am giving them. I won’t go into a blow-by-blow account of each one, but once again, all three rods produced fish. I love this when you have three different areas producing from one swim.
Well, a bit of a ramble on through my past month. My motor has a new hose fitted. I feel at times like I need a new hose fitting, but all in all, things are okay.
Best wishes as always