Thursday, 20 October 2016

Some photos

It's not all about catching fish...

 I've been trying for a Bittern photo for over a decade then almost got one...
then they were like buses!

The Pike come along when this is blue.

Monday, 10 October 2016


I've made the journey north literally hundreds of times, I know every bend and every bump, I drive on auto.  I know when to put the foot down and when to ease up. Even so there are times on the journey that I'm deep in thought and don't know where I am.  I'm on the right road, that is all.

A good soundtrack is essential, sometimes an audio book but normally music played LOUD.  Tonight I have the latest Red Hot Chilli Peppers disc in.  I love this band and I love the new album, I suspect it will get a good few spins this autumn but there is half a dozen other discs to choose from;  Soulwax, Eels, Led Zep, Leftfield.  On the way home I'll listen to something different, something to reflect my mood, celebration or commiseration.  These journeys have ended in ecstasy, despair and every emotion in between. 

 The weather forecast promised North Westerly wind and heavy rain but as I cruised north the sky was clear although lightning threatened in the west.  Will I make it onto the water ahead of the rain?  It will be a big bonus if I do!  Where can I put the boat in these conditions, if it gets rough I need to be as comfortable as possible on the first night.  Getting damp won't cause so much trouble on the second night.  Where will I go on the first morning?  What will the weather be doing? What are my options?  Shit!  Momentary panic, have I remembered everything?  Yes I checked off my list before I left, chill...

My musings are always interrupted on the way to Norfolk, at some point I will need to stop for a piss. A sign of age I expect but anyway as I know the route so well I have a couple of lay-bys marked down for the purpose. These are back from the road a bit so a little bit more discrete, wouldn't want an interruption from the boys in blue would I? I need to go early tonight and the closer I get to the lay by the more I need to go. By the time I see the ironic P sign I'm wincing but just as I approached the lay by a car pulled in! Fuck it, keep going! My mind tells me I can't piss, my bladder discomfort eases, it's a miracle! Funny how the mind works. Next lay by and I’m shuffling in discomfort again but bugger me another car pulls in ahead of me! Hammer down the dual carriageway and finally, just as I’m about to explode a lay by oasis appears.

Back on the road, still dry and clear but the foreboding clouds to the west can only be getting closer.  The second half of the journey is more comfortable, the peppers go round again and by the time I’m in Broadland the sky is still clear but mist is forming.  I take it easy as I approach my destination, the roads are tricky and getting stuck behind a slow vehicle won't make much difference now.  I Park in the usual place, open the door and hear the Tawney's straight away, but no time to admire as I jog to the boat and take another desperate piss!

The routine at the slip is easy now, tried and tested by hundreds of launches.  It's still clear and dry and I'm going to get out and set up without being rained on! Everything loaded and ready, I head out into the darkness...

My Pike season has begun, despite the annual onslaught from the anti autumn Piking brigade. These people hide behind a facade of "fish welfare" but it's mostly a case of; "I'm busy catching Carp/Tench/Barbel so no one should go Pike fishing before I'm ready". I've covered that on here before, fuck 'em. If anyone should need a reminder;

Now comes the frustrating time for a blogger, time to dip below the radar for a while.  I may pop up again from time to time, or maybe not.  So as I'm unable to show any Pike, here are some Cranes.
PS.  It was Leftfield on the way home, read into that what you will.

Thursday, 22 September 2016


Where has the month gone?  Not much of it has been spent on the riverbank that's for sure!  Early in the month I had neither the time for an over-nighter or motivation to fish a short session.  When I looked at the calendar I realised my summer fishing was practically over and I really needed to spend a day reorganising the shed.  Stuff that won't now be used till spring goes to the back, bags unpacked then packed again.  Rods rigged, knots tied, hooks sharpened.  The Pike gear is now ready.

Saturday 17th was the unofficial start to the pike season, the annual PAC Convention, held at Kettering conference centre.  As ever it was great to catch up with people I only see once or twice a year and good to make a few new friends.  I've bought a bit of kit recently, a new bag for the boat for one and today picked up a few more bits and pieces.  Boat rests from Neville, boat biters from ET.  I fancied buying a book and had a chat with Mr Harper but forgot to have a proper look.  Mr Lumb was in good form as ever.  The evening saw a steak, a few beers and some good Pikey chat with old friends and new.  

Thankfully I survived the Saturday night unscathed and arrived home in plenty of time for a trip to Norfolk.  I had a plan to revisit a spot I'd caught Bream earlier in the year and put a bit of bait out to try and hold them.  Once anchored up I fished brown crumb and crushed hemp in a feeder with corn and maggots on the hook.  Bites were regular so the feeder was recast often, meanwhile I was catapulting pellets over the top.  The Bream didn't show, the bites were hard to hit and I only managed a few Roach and Rudd.

The other reason for going was to have a look around and get an idea of how things look for the season ahead.  It's Pike time and for the next few weeks I'll just be doing my thing in a place I love, come what may.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Fizzling out

Isaac and I arrived at “Ted’s Place” around 1800 on a roasting hot August day.  We had a look around but once again I failed to find any fishy clues so ended up settling for the same swim yet again.  My thinking was twofold, firstly we had plenty of room and secondly I knew this area had received a bit of bait on a fairly regular basis.

Isaac fished with maggots on a whip while I set up the bivvy and everything else.  He was catching Rudd right from the off which kept him amused while I did all the chores, including raking out a load more weed and muck.  I fished with three rods, a couple with chod rigs, one baited with fake corn the other a pineapple pop up.  The third rod had a tutti boilie on a heli rig.  I scattered a couple of kilos of pellets around the area as well as a bit of Maize and a few boilies.  Now it was a waiting game.
Meanwhile Isaac and I amused ourselves by looking at the stars, eating sausages and making each other laugh.  A frog hopping around in the bivvy caused amusement too.  By 2030 the wind had increased to a moderate Northerly, there was no rain forecast but we could see lightning on the western horizon.  I made sure everything was ship shape just in case.  The wind rustled the reeds and whistled through the willows making natural night music.

My main motivation for night fishing this water is to have everything in position ready for fish to hopefully feed in the early morning but I was getting a few liners which gave me hope.  By 2230 we were both in our kip bags, Isaac’s chatter slowing down as tiredness took over.  Around 2330, just as I was starting to feel drowsy an alarm shrieked as the heli rig ripped off, before I’d got out of the bivvy a second rod was screaming too.  An irate Swan bristled in my swim but it wasn’t as pissed off as I was.  I recast all three rods then got back in the kip bag to wait for morning.
 I was up and awake at 0540, closely followed by Isaac who after watching the sunrise recommenced hammering the Rudd while I recast the rods.  Would this be my morning?  The wind had eased considerably, liners started up again and from time to time a few patches of bubbles erupted.  I felt I had a chance but time was short as we had to be away around 0800.  We dined on sausage sarnies again, cooked without any spitting or splashing in my new ‘Ridge Monkey’ toaster.  This was the first time I’d used it and was impressed. Still the odd patch of fizz appeared and the line twitched occasionally but we ran out of time.  An hour later we were at my daughter Maddie’s school as she collected her GCSE results; she made me a very proud dad indeed!
 Fishing wise summer seems to be fizzling out with little to show for my half-hearted efforts.  I may have another chance to wet a line for Tench and Carp, one decent fish would feel like a nice reward but who knows?  September is almost upon us, almost time to start sorting the Pike gear out. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Never the same twice

I arrived around 1930 and after walking the bank and seeing nothing I decided to fish the same swim as last time.  It was a hot sunny day but the westerly wind was fresh and rippling the surface making it was impossible to see any fish in the time I had.  I raked the swim then baited up with three kg of mixed pellets and a tin of hemp.
The evening was nice with a spectacular sunset but due to the fresh wind and a harvesting combine it wasn’t exactly tranquil!  The wind was causing regular beeps on the alarms but at least one was a liner and there were a few Rudd showing on the surface.  I’d been toying with the idea of using my cheap and spindly rodpod but I hate these things so for some reason opted for a three rod buzz bar which was even less stable than the pod would have been.  I may have to spend some money soon…

The harvesting finished at 2230 and the sound was replaced by that of the wind in the reeds and trees.  Most of the places I’ve fished in the past have responded to a good blow but will this water?  Will the Tench and Carp move onto the banquet I’ve laid out for them?  The morning would tell me…

After a few hours’ sleep in the bivvy I rose at 0500 and recast all three rods.  Once again the chod rigs had worked in keeping the baits clear of weed but nothing had picked up the bait, as yet.  I recast all three rods and topped up with a few more pellets and boilies.  If anything the wind had increased and a good chop was rolling down the water.  Last time I’d been transfixed by the signs of fish on a calm, clear lake but in these conditions bubbles or indeed anything else would be difficult to spot.

Still I sat and watched the water and enjoyed watching the sun rise along with the bird life; There was a Kingfisher zipping around, I saw an Egret on three occasions, Yellow Wagtails landed on the floating weed and all the usual suspects flew in and out.  Two hours passed and it seemed like my best chance had gone so I began to experiment a little.  Casting a lead around revealed a couple of harder bottomed areas which would enable me to use something other than a chod rig.  I dropped a heli rig with a short hooklength baited with maize and dropped a handful of freebies on top then replaced one of the other chods with a float rig.  This didn’t last long as no matter what bait I tried it got hammered by silver fish before it hit the bottom, I was catching Roach on Maize!

Around 0830 a big patch of bubble erupted and I began to receive a few liners again.  For the first time this trip I actually felt like I was in with a chance.  However that was as good as it got the session fizzled out as the breakfast sausages sizzled and the final day of the test match started.  A bit disappointing fishing wise but still a great way to spend a summer evening.  I’ve still got a lot to learn about “Ted’s place”.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Wonderful Glorious

It had been nearly two years since I have pitched a bivvy up beside a lake in the summer and I had got completely out of the habit.  The early summer weather delayed the inevitable return but now we are in a period of hot, dry conditions it was high time.  I spent an evening getting things prepared then the following day I picked up the Purple Princess after work and we made our way to “Ted’s place”.

This water is very much an unknown quantity for me.  I know it had a history for good Tench fishing before it was decimated by Otters and I have seen a couple of decent sized Carp so I decided to hedge my bets and fish in a way that will give me a chance of catching both species.  Location could be a nightmare, the lake is very long and narrow, bankside access is limited and I have absolutely no experience to fall back on.  Once I’ve selected a swim my next problem is the thick weed growth, I have to fish in such a way I can counter this.  So I am looking for a low head of fish that will be hard to find in a large water and fishing in tricky conditions; why do I always find myself enchanted by such places?  Why don’t I fish easy access, well stocked waters with hard, clear bottoms?  Anyone who knows me…  “Ted’s place” is located in a remote and beautiful part of rural Suffolk, it is lightly fished and the tranquillity is equal to anywhere I’ve fished.

After chasing a Hare down the lane we arrived around 2000 and I began walking the bank whilst the Purple Princess set up her camera and started snapping away.  My walk of the banks revealed nothing that marked any swim out more than another but one had a ditch trickling water in as well as plenty of cover and just felt fishy.  I had to take a bit of a detour to get there as a Swan sat in the path and wasn’t moving!  I lugged the gear over then commenced raking the swim which removed a bit of weed and muck that I then managed to transfer onto myself.  The lake bed is covered with mussels and I chucked back loads of live ones dragged in by the rake.

An hour later I had everything ready; the bivvy was up, the swim sorted and two pop up boilies were being fished on chod rigs.  I don’t like this rig but in the weedy conditions it seems the best way of presenting a bait.  I then baited the area up with about three kilos of mixed pellets, a few handfuls of 10mm tutti boilies and a tin of hemp.  I hoped that by putting a bit of bait out I would encourage any patrolling fish into hanging around for a feed.  As I tackled up I’d grown aware of an ominous, growing humming sound and I feared squadrons of winged creatures forming up ready to drink our blood.  Everything I had done this evening was in anticipation of feeding fish moving into the swim in the early hours of the morning, the rods were out but I wasn’t expecting anything fishy to happen and so it proved.  Instead of catching fish we drank tea, chatted, watched the sun set and the moon rise. 

At dusk the mosquitos attacked, endless waves swooped in buzzing annoyingly and looking for blood.  These creatures were a right royal pain in the arse but for some reason they don’t seem to like the taste of me.  I swatted dozens that dared land on me but evidently none managed to pierce my skin.  We had allies when the bats appeared and swooped low on the hunt.  The moon lit the scene, casting shadows and throwing enough light on the water to show the surface was teeming with life.  I’m sure flies of some sort were hatching and hundreds of Rudd were taking advantage of this.  At around midnight we settled down in the bivvy for a nap, apart from the buzz of flies and the squawks of birds it was almost silent.  From the quiet of the bivvy we heard another sound, deep, strange and distant.  I’m told Bitterns have been sighted here, could it be?

The growing light and the sounds of bird song roused me at around 0430.  I recast the two rods and was pleased to see both baits had been clear of weed.  I topped the swim up with another kilo of pellets and a few more boilies then stuck a third rod out fishing corn and maggots on a waggler close in.  The float began dipping and bobbing straight away as the small baits were engulfed by Rudd or the occasional Perch.  The sunrise was obscured by mist and a dark shape materialised in the eerie light, it was some distance away but it was a Bittern no doubt!  This was the first I’ve seen in Suffolk and I saw it (or another?) emerge and fly out of the reeds opposite me a while later. 
At 0525 an alarm startled me as the middle rod took off and I bent into a decent weight.  The fish took line initially and surged along the surface towards a weed bed, a decent Carp no doubt.  I turned the fish and was just beginning to feel in control when the line fell slack…  That’s the thing with chod rigs, I seem to lose the odd fish, more than I do with other carpy rigs.  I should have felt gutted but I didn’t, if anything I was encouraged because my little plan had worked, kind of…  The swim in front of me was alive with Rudd on the surface and periodically large patches of fishy bubbles were erupting all over the place.  I was still in with a chance!

The float fishing was proving frustrating as I just couldn’t keep a bait in the water long enough to feel I was in with a chance of something larger than a Rudd.  I tried to adjust the shot and ended up fishing a bit of fake corn, popped up, lift bite style.  Still I caught Rudd, though fewer.  Eventually I swapped that rod for another, fishing corn on a kind of paternoster rig.  Using a light lead I cast towards patches of bubbles but still only Rudd rattled the tip.

At 0735 the middle rod started beeping again.  The indicator dropped back a bit then lifted oh so slowly and kept heading towards the butt.  It didn’t seem right but I lifted the rod anyway and a decent fish spooked off the line and bow waved away, I should have known better.  Still bubbles broke the surface from time to time, I was certain there were still fish in the swim and I’d get another chance.
As the morning continued the Purple Princess emerged from the bivvy and resumed photographing everything and anything.  There was no lack of subjects either with a dozen Swans sharing the water, in harmony for once and we sighted another Bittern.  The Suffolk countryside looked wonderful bathed in sunshine and there was plenty of life flying in all forms around.  Scores of Dragonflies buzzed in and zipped out before we could raise our cameras, this was frustrating for a while but eventually they began to land and settle on the platform in front of us.  There were at least two different species posing for the cameras, despite years of watching these things I didn’t know what species they were so after a little google I think one is a ‘Scarce Chaser’ and the other maybe a ‘Common Darter’.  Perhaps a wise man from the north can help me out?

By 1000 the bubbling had all but stopped and the only fishy activity came from the thousands of Rudd. I amused myself by flicking out maggots, a few at a time, and watching them zip in and pick them off.  I could have caught a fish a chuck but I didn’t feel the need.  We had a fried breakfast and plenty of tea then slowly tidied away.  It had been a brilliant night; I’d enjoyed it immensely despite not catching what I was after.   “Ted’s place” is perfect, it ticks all the boxes and I’ll be back for a rematch soon.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

In a rhythm

I had to work on Saturday but afterwards the Purple Princess and I hurtled northwards and by dusk were pitching a tent on the Norfolk coast.  I love the long summer evenings and we still had enough light to enjoy a walk on the beach though not enough light to use the cameras.  We’ve camped here many times and expect to see Seals in the surf and sure enough we spotted one before we’d even descended from the dunes.  We walked northwards seeing more and more seals as we did so, after about a mile we climbed up a tide break and we greeted by the sight of a whole group of seals laying on the beach.  Their calls were strange, some high pitched and musical, others deeper almost barks.  We walked slowly forward but didn’t want to get too close and disturb them.  Further along the beach were even more seals around a hundred in all and there were dozens more swimming just off shore.  We made sure we kept a respectful distance and walked along enjoying something we may never see again?  The Seals certainly noticed us and some of the younger ones shifted position, a couple actually shuffled towards us to get a better look.  The sun setting behind the dunes gave the scene an eerie light, we couldn’t manage to capture it on camera but the memory will stay.

After a night in the tent we packed away in the morning and made our way to the staithe.  By midday we were afloat on a bouncy broad, surrounded by yachts.  Through the yachts I opened the throttle; the fresh south westerly threw spray off the bows and temporarily prevented the PP clicking away with a new Nikon.  After a little cruise around I stopped the boat in a sheltered spot and began tackling up.  I fished two open end feeders on helicopter rigs using corn or maggots on 16 hooks on a two foot link.  The groundbait was the remnants of the Expo mix I’d used in the spring, bulked up with more brown crumb and given a good squirt of liquid Brasem.

 With the cuddy half up, the boat nicely organised I tuned in radio 6 and we chilled out with a brew, or at least I tried but bites came to maggots immediately.  I missed a few and hit a few more and caught fish regularly, all Roach up to 4ozs and after a couple of hours I’d not seen a single Bream.  I was already planning to move before the Pink footed Geese starting fighting in front of us.  This plan became solid when one of the combatants launched itself skyward and through my line, dragging my rod and reel out of the boat and across the broad.  Thankfully the bird became untangled and the rod floated. All ended as well as could be expected when I picked the rod up on the way to a second swim.

 A short while later we pulled the boat into a secret, sheltered bay and got everything settled and sorted once more.  I chucked the feeder into a clear area between weedbeds.  The rods were mostly forgotten while I fried brunch and topped up the flasks, when I wound in I found either sucked maggots or a Roach had hung itself.  The day had threatened rain but we only felt a little drizzle on the wind, it stayed bright and breezy making good light for photography and the Purple princess was in her element.  Meanwhile I was in a nice rhythm, recasting regularly and catching fish, mostly small Roach with the occasional Rudd.  It didn’t take long before the rod stayed bent and I boated a Bream of about three pounds, followed quickly by another one a bit smaller.  This pattern continued throughout the afternoon; I caught mostly Roach but from time to time Bream would drift in and I would catch a couple before they wandered off again.  In future I’ll take more bait to hold them in the swim…  All in all it was a good day’s fishing.
 As always in Broadland there were plenty of distractions and photo opportunities that dragged my concentration away from the rod tips.  We saw all manner of wildfowl, in particular another Pink footed Goose which came right up to the boat.  I’m not sure if it was trying to scrounge a feed or if it was trying to make amends for earlier…  We see far fewer birds of prey in the summer but a couple of Marsh Harriers ghosted over.  Dragonflies buzzed by but didn’t stay for a photo.  The bay was ours and only ours, we didn’t see a soul though we heard plenty and no one knew we were there.  Radio 6 came up with some blinding tunes and I was dancing in the boat with Leftfield and Lydon.  We even switched stations just in time for the tie break that led to Andy Murray winning Wimbledon.  I’m no tennis fan but fair play.
It was a lovely afternoon and it was tempting to stay out to watch the sunset but the pub was even more tempting.  We made it in time for a lovely seafood platter washed down with a pint of ‘Ghost ship’.  We somehow ended in in the pub quiz and didn’t disgrace ourselves…  We packed loads into a day and a bit and arrived home late, thoroughly knackered.  We really must do this more often!