Well, last night I sat down and read through the first 6 months diary entries I have made this year and it hit home once again the amount of joy and pleasure being alongside water out there in the great outdoors brings to me. So, I thought I would share a few of these moments, as we pass through the changing seasons.
January 1st - was wild, very wild, with waves splashing over my carp rods. I had lost a big carp at the net the day before whilst still sitting amongst a covering of snow. I returned for a few hours to try and catch a consolation. I succeeded but unfortunately nowhere near as large as the fish I had lost. Ah well, at least my winter methods, baits and rigs still continue to work year in and year out.
After building the area up and getting the fish visiting where I wanted them, I was unable to get in the swim again and sitting on the far side watching the antics of two who must have each had a Spomb Rod and Spombs for Christmas I realised it was going to be pretty pointless fishing the area again for some time anyway. My main bait had been Magnum Duo 10 and 15 mm.
January 8th - I was re-acquainted with a set of my old fibreglass rods that I had last used in 1982, They were as ‘ultra cult’ (as we used to say) as they got back then. I really must give them another outing.
January 18th - Arctic conditions saw me dig one of my float rod and centre pin reel combinations out and it was off to the River Dove for a real enjoyable afternoon trotting for grayling. The trout were a bit of a pain but some terrific sport was had. Some of the trout fights were pretty epic to say the least. Bait had been maggots flavoured with Archie Braddock’s Supaspice.
January 25th - I had turned my attention to chub, something I had been meaning to do for some time. I used to really enjoy the simplicity of chub fishing, roving around on pretty rivers with the minimal of kit, yet it was something I had not done for a number of years. What with my love of carp and barbel the chub had been pushed aside a little and to be fair I had lost track of how they were getting on around my local patch. First session on a beautiful river in the wilds of Derbyshire was rather rewarding with chub to 5lb plus, as well as a bonus barbel of 12.04 which gave an absolute biblical fight on my light chub quiver rod. It was daylight when I hooked it and pitch black when I eventually landed it. I had been using Questrami, Rahja Spice and Absolute Seafood paste during this session.
January 30th - I ended the first month of the year working with my free Spirit fishing head on at the Brentwood show. A long hard week-end but so very satisfying talking to so many delighted customers.
February saw me continue my chub fishing and I really got into it covering miles and miles of bank on 4 different rivers. A lot of this was totally pioneering work, not really knowing if there were decent chub there or not but I must admit it got rather addictive and as well as my usual week-end angling, I also found myself popping out in the evenings during the week for a few hours too.
I caught quite a lot of fish to 5lb plus but not the hoped for 6lb fish. Still on my paste baits.
March 6th - A lovely winters day that saw me cover several miles of bank and not see another angler! I caught a lovely brace of fish which both looked as though they were previously un-caught and knew that my long walk back to the Land Rover could mark the end of a really enjoyable period fishing for chub. The water temperatures had been slowly rising and with very little of the river season left I was getting the strong urge to actually aim my attention at the barbel once more.
March 8th - This was it, the river conditions looked perfect for barbel so with a barbel feeder mix made I was finding myself at 3 pm heading down the river with my heavier rods and a lot more bait than I had been roving for chub with.
It felt good to be sat back behind a static rod rather than constantly keeping the bait on the move and constantly moving myself leapfrogging up and down the river trying every nook and cranny. It really was a joy to sit back and take my surroundings in. I have always found by varying my angling so much that it really gives me a buzz when I swap to something else for a period.
I had made quite a lot of casts with the feeder (no hook link) to start with to get a good trickle of bait going through my swim. Eventually I clipped on the hook link and made my first ‘proper cast’ and sat back watching the tip waver around in the current when suddenly the tip slammed down, the reel positively screamed and I found myself holding onto a wildly bucking rod. The fight was as incredible as barbel fights go and it really was a case of stretching my neck to try and get a glimpse of my opponent in case I lost it.
Fortunately everything held and soon a barbel of 13.02 was posing in front of the camera. I was truly made up and as darkness fell and the frost started to form on my tackle, I decided to cut the session short.
Questrami boilie presented on a feeder rig with the feeder mix being simply broken up Questrami Boilies and scalded Mini Mixed Pellets.
Brook my 14 ½ year old Staffy bitch had struggled with her walk in the morning and it was the first time I’d had to abandon a walk. She had looked so sorry for herself and this had been playing on my mind too. So it was back early to share some time with her.
March 10th - The night I had so looked forward to for so long. I run the East Midlands and Lincolnshire region of the British Carp Study Group and each month we get together for a meeting. This month I had pulled off what could have been considered the impossible. I had talked Bill Walkeden to come over and give us a slide show from his 5 years at on the Redmire syndicate from 1970 to 1975.
Now the above might not sound too remarkable but if I add that Bill was almost 94 at that time!
We as anglers have a lot to thank John Mcleod (Bill’s angling partner at the time) and Bill for as it was those who first used sweet corn at Redmire and shared a rather historical catch which was referred to in the press as ‘The Night of the Beer Barrels’. And sweet corn soon became a standard angling bait. The night of the beer barrels consisted of a catch of 4 huge carp (for the time) including the fish which later went on to become the British record when Chris Yates landed it in 1980.
The evening went along incredibly well and Bill totally captured everyone’s attention with previously unseen Redmire slides. We ended the evening with me giving him a gift from our region of the latest British Carp Study Group book.
March 29th - Rest in Peace Brook. Brook had such a great life but finally the years had crept up and her body eventually gave up. I had finished the season with a flurry of barbel but my mind really wasn’t on the job. I knew Brook had very little time left to live, she wasn’t in pain but struggled to move herself. It was heartbreaking to see my best friend and closest companion like this. When she eventually took her last breath it totally destroyed me.
Brook was an incredible dog. She had the pardon everywhere I fished not to have to be on a lead where rules stated dogs had to be. She had gained so many friends over the years from the various places we fished that I received over 1,000 condolence messages, cards and even flowers. For 2 days I was unable to speak to anyone.
Thanks for the memories Brook, you will be with me forever.
April 3rd - I had to get away but wasn’t sure I was up to mixing with others. There was a Northern region B.C.S.G. fish-in that I had been invited to. I knew that there wouldn’t be many people around and those there would all be true gent’s. I decided it was probably what I needed to get me out and face life amongst others again without my loyal companion.
It turned into a great week-end, so thank you everyone who was there who helped take my mind away from my loss.
17th April – First French trip of the year with Simeon Bond, Mr Spomb and Pete Castle to a lake right next to the German border. It was a lovely short break that I had agreed to going on just days before we set off. I could now do this with not having to make plans for Brook.
Pete Castle was filming it and we caught that many fish I found myself winding in at night for a rest!
I had fished the Magnum Duo and Questrami to start with but with limited time and more takes coming to the Questrami the first day I swapped all the rods to the Questrami.
25th April - back home an onto my local pit where I hooked 8 good fish in just over 18 hours, landing 6 of them and dropping the other 2 off at the net.
I had a couple more sessions there but really didn’t feel ‘into it’. I was catching but it was busy and I didn’t feel relaxed fishing there. In fact I packed away mid session on my last session there and drove over to a new water I had joined for the last night and thoroughly enjoyed the peace and tranquillity there even if I got plagued by big bream!
7th May - I can’t believe what I have pulled off. Bill Walkeden (now 94) confided that he still had 2 remaining angling ambitions. One to catch a double figure barbel having fallen short over the years by 2oz and his other one was a large surface caught carp. I promised him the barbel trip during the first week of the new season and to-day was the day I was going to try and help him achieve his other target.
It’s a long story for telling elsewhere but he only went and landed a 41 lb 8 oz mirror!
One down and the barbel to go. What an incredible inspiration, a lifetime of angling and still got ambitions at 94!
A home made floater fished amongst floating pellet.
15th May - a new found love!
I mentioned one new water but tonight was the opening of the season of one of our British Carp Study Group waters and unbelievably there were just 3 of us there on 20 acres!
I landed a double figure bream which was a massive surprise as we didn’t even know we had bream in there! It still remains the only one caught as I write this in June. Ron and Julian both caught carp as did I eventually after I moved on to some showing fish. Little did I know at that time that it was going to start to take over every thought in my head over the next few weeks with me not even contemplating fishing anywhere else. One again the Magnum Duo saved me a carp blank.
30th May - I have been catching some stunning looking carp each trip to the B.C.S.G. venue and today the last day in May I was rewarded with a proper red letter day which included a new lake record for me which was a previously un-known fish.
A Magnum White hook bait fished over Questrami was it’s downfall.
Conclusion It has been a rather satisfying first 6 months of the year with plenty of mixed angling and some nice fish falling to my rods.
I have never felt hurt before as much as I felt it losing Brook. Still whilst writing the words above I get the lump in my throat. She was special, a very special lady.
Best wishes and fishes to all
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