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Rudd provide hot pole action.

July 28, 2014 at 6:39 pm

It was one of those hot listless days, with the temperature hovering around 30C, when every movement seemed to take double the effort, that I decided to visit my small local pond for the second time this summer. The afternoon had been spent searching out the shadiest parts of the garden, while my enduring wife turned down offers of various outings, as they came to my mind, as “Too Hot!”  Surprisingly, the suggestion of a walk down to the pond after Tea, was looked upon as an acceptable joint activity, which saw me spring into action, scurrying around gathering up bits of tackle and bait. Refreshed, the tackle trolley was loaded and a ten minute stroll saw us at the bankside by 6 pm, seeking the cover of a tree, which soon proved short lived as the sun moved round to bring it’s full force to bare.

My preferred summer method on this pond is to feed curried hemp, with 6mm cubes of luncheon meat, dusted with curry powder and left over night in the fridge. This switches on the native common and crucian carp population quickly, while tending to keep all, but the largest rudd at bay. Today was a rushed, unplanned affair and my only ground bait was a mix of liquidised bread, with ground, hard carp pellets, the hook bait being sweet corn straight from the freezer. As I tackled up, rudd were already swirling on the surface and I knew that getting through them would be a problem, but thought that heavy balls of feed would soon bring in the carp to push them out. Wrong.

Six egg shaped balls of feed were put in, leading away from the lily bed to the centre of my swim, 8 to 9 metres out, while I set up a 4 x No 10 pole rig with 5lb line through to a size 14 barbless on a 3lb hook link. The pond has a uniform depth of only 2 feet and with crucians as a hoped for target, I wanted to see their fussy bites, while the commons, which rarely run to more than 2lb, can often prove cagey too.

As soon as the float hit the water, it dipped under and the first of too many rudd felt the hook, a pristine golden fish had sucked the sweet corn to the back of it’s throat in a second. The pole was going in and out at speed, with a rudd a minute slipping into the keep net. My wife commented, that pole fishing was not proper fishing, as the solid layer of rudd showed no sign of deminishing, it reminding her of a party game, when a child, where a stick with a string and magnet attached, was lowered into a tub of tin fish, a shiny fish sticking to the magnet each time it was lowered into the tub. These were some of the best rudd I’d taken from the pond and pressed on determined to build a decent weight.

Small bubbles were now bursting on the surface, a sure sign of carp on the muddy bottom, but still I couldn’t get through to them and decided a cast away from the feed might be the answer, putting the float close to a clump of weed. This time the float merely settled instead of zooming off, then rings appeared around the float. Ah, a carp at last. The rings progressed to dips, then a slow submerge off to the right. A firm lift and I was into something heavy, the elastic came out and stayed put as the something slowly made a beeline for the weed bed. A big carp, that hadn’t woken up? I didn’t have a long wait to find out what it was, a round shape the size of a soccer ball, briefly surfacing, before diving back down as fast as it’s paddles would take it. A large terrapin!

Hugging the bottom, this released pet resisted all of my attempts to bring it to the bank, paddling away from me as hard as it legs would carry it, needing to hand line it within rage of the landing net, then dragging it across to my pitch, where it retracted into it’s shell. The barbless hook was in the terrapin’s mouth somewhere, but I stopped short of trying to take it out and cut the line as close as I could, much to my wife’s amusement. The fuss had attracted the attention of a couple of other anglers and I walked it round to show them, before continuing to the other end of the pond and releasing it.

This whole interlude had taken 20 minutes of productive fishing time and I quickly tied another hook to the link, sweet corn on and a cast in. The float sailed off. The rudd collection continued.

The sun was still hot, I was dripping with sweat and my wife was growing tired of the repetition, rudd following rudd. A cool drink was required and she volunteered to walk home to get one, arriving back just as I netted my first carp of the evening. A crucian hybrid. This had given a good fight, making it to the lily bed, but coming out again. I needed that drink.

The fed area was now a mass of bubbles and the rudd had moved out, each bite being indicated by the slightest of movement from the float, crucians nudging and sucking the bait, before moving away with it. Others just sat with the bait, sucking the goodness out to a skin. Some of these I hooked, some splashed to the surface and came off.

A few times the tiniest of bites saw the elastic fly out as unseen commons accelerated into the weed bed, or the lilies, the elastic unable to buffer the runs, the 3 lb hook link parting like cotton. Next visit I shall take a rig with 8lb to 5lb hook link and hope that it doesn’t affect the quantity of bites.

A welcome sight were some small tench, being larger than those caught last year, punching far higher than their actual weight.

As the sun began to sink behind the trees, some better hybrids put in an appearance and it was a case of saying just one more fish, until with the light going fast, I had to call a halt at 9 pm.

This pound plus common took on the dot of nine, the last hour finally bringing the quality fish I’d been after all evening.

A terrific mixed bag of fish taken in under two and a half hours of hectic fishing, this free fishing among the houses always throwing up a surprise, or two, the terrapin being the strangest.


CZ 452 .17 HMR makes hay while the sun shines

July 22, 2014 at 3:57 pm

A warm wet spring, saw rapid growth of the grasses and thistles on most of my shooting permissions this year, good news for the cattle farmers, but not for the shooter required to keep the rabbit population in check. One of my farms has had little attention from me this year, due first to the absent farmer penning his animals close to the yard, creating a living security barrier to keep people off his land, including me, then, when he finally let the beasts onto the land, due to the soft ground, the grass was so long, that the rabbits were hidden. Arriving this week, the grass had been cut and the hay gathered in.

This small farm is on a reclaimed landfill site, where methane is drawn off to power an electricity plant, while on two sides, land fill continues with huge trucks dumping loads of rubbish, to be bulldozed flat and covered with earth. Not your rural ideal, but the farm is a haven of wildlife, returned to beef production, all be it, used to rear and fatten young bullocks and heifers, while a large bull keeps guard over his charges.

With calves in tow, these cattle can be unpredictable and having already been bumped a few times by over enthusiastic bullocks, I stay well clear and with the land divided down the middle, opt for the ruminant free zone every time.

The land slopes down toward the active landfill site and I circled round to approach the top of a tree lined hedge line, that harbours a large warren, several rabbits being visible in the distance. If the land had been flat, I could have set up with the HMR on the bipod and picked off my targets from this position, but the curve of the slope masked the rabbits from view, when prone; a fifty yard crawl being required. Although cloudy, it was a hot sultry day and the sweat was soon dripping from my brow, as I shuffled forward, pushing the rifle and shooting bag ahead of me. Still the rabbits were hidden, just the tips of their twitching ears visible.

My bipod is a Harris, extendable to 27 inches and now within fifty yards of the first group, I couldn’t chance getting closer, so my next tactic was to extend the legs out to 15 inches, about the max for prone shooting. Through the scope, I could just make out the head of a rabbit and fired, only to see a puff of dirt and grass as the bullet slammed into the curve of the slope twenty yards away, the rifle firing low at that point, due to scope height. Untroubled, the rabbits continued feeding and now the bipod legs were extended further to over 20 inches, allowing me to sit up and shoot with the legs resting on my boots. Four, or five rabbits were now in clear sight over the brow and selecting the largest, took head shots on two in quick succession, before the rest scuttled back through the hedge.

Sitting it out for another ten minutes, I waited for more movement ahead of me, until another large rabbit stepped through the wire fence 80 yards away. The Harris legs were lowered to the default setting, my target stopping on a raised hummock long enough for a clear shot behind the eye, that sent it into a back flip. Scanning with my scope further along the hedge line, more rabbits were out, but beyond them, workers were still on the site beyond the field 250 yards away, well within range of the .17 bullet, if a ricochet occurred. With no more safe shots available, I gathered up and cleaned my prizes.

Moving to the other side of the field, I shot another three in the next hour and decided to call it a day, before the dreaded traffic built up for the drive home. Fortunately the farmer arrived as I was climbing the yard gate and was able to show him my spoils for the afternoon. I assured him that with the grass gone, I could get back down to business again.




Wild brown trout flyfishing come rain, or shine.

July 15, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Following a 230 mile round trip to collect my sister from Weymouth for a family gathering, I thought a visit to my local syndicate river was off limits, but as she and my wife settled down in front of the TV for their evening soap fix, I made my escape with the minimum of pleading on my part. The sun was blinding, as I drove west to the river, but rain was forecast for later, with heavy showers to follow over the weekend, so this was my only chance to fish this week.

Walking along the overgrown banks, I was pleased to see just a hint of colour, as the river babbled over the shallows. I’d not fished this section all season, even missing out on Duffer’s Fortnight, when mayfly were rising fish all over the river. The winter floods had created a new run along the opposite bank, which extended into a long pool and thought that it offered refuge for a fish, or two.

There were plenty of grannoms scudding about the surface, but no rises, so a Black Devil nymph was tied on to search out the deeper pockets for trout.  I waded downstream in cover of the right hand bank, before moving out to the middle, where short upstream and across casts could be made to cover the faster water. A short six foot leader, greased to float within 18 inches of the fly, is all that is needed in this sort of fishing, casting and recasting, while watching the floating leader. The slightest, stop, twitch, or a “buzz”, when the line seems to vibrate, must be responded to with a quick lift of the rod. My little 7ft Shakespeare Odyssey 4/5 weight rod is perfect for this and minutes into the session, the line darted forward 3 inches and I saw the flash of gold from a small brown, before it tumbled off.

Moving upstream a few yards, there was a back eddy formed behind tree roots jutting into the flow and I tried casts directly to the edge of the flow and into the slack, but it was a cast higher up into the full flow, that met with a solid take. There was a brief explosion of resistance at the head of the pool, then slack line as a ten inch wild brown turned and dashed down stream into a bed of streamer weed, bursting onto the surface once contact was made again. To avoid the bundle of energy from bouncing off, I gave it line, then drew it back upstream, once it’s head was down.

These small browns will take advantage of every depression on the riverbed, ambushing their food as it rushes by over their heads, darting out and back in an eye blink.

I now moved up the shallows, casting into every nook and cranny, but no one was home and found myself at the tail of the next pool, where the river turns sharp right, offering deep water and cover at the edges, a happy trout hunting ground for me in the past. Again no rising fish were showing and I prospected the nymph along the edges, gradually casting further into the pool with no response, not a good sign for this part of the river. A sudden heavy rain shower forced me back into cover, while the evening sun continued to shine beneath the cloud. There must have been an impressive rainbow somewhere out of my sight, as I huddled against the bankside bushes. I took the time to change my leader length by looping in another two feet of 4lb line and tying on a heavier Gold Head Hares Ear to get deep into the pool, the trout not in their expected places hard under the banks.

With the sun back out and the smell of fresh rain still in the air, I began the search process again, disappointed that a good fish that had been growing larger each season was no longer present under bushes to my right. Wading further into the pool, I made an extended cast up to the bend and watched the nymph sink to the depths. The leader did not drift back, but stayed put and I lifted to avoid an assumed snag, that burst into life and headed off round the bend upstream. It hugged the bottom fighting hard, definitely a trout, not a chub, zig zagging across the the pool to appear briefly at my feet, one of the many silver browns that have populated the river. The fight tailed off as the trout turned back to the deeper water, bringing it’s head up and with my landing net still leaning against the bank downstream, I made a successful lift with my left hand under the fish for the capture.

Fin perfect and in prime condition, this was my second and last trout of the evening, the sun shining beneath yet another storm cloud, that was about to empty it’s contents over the Hampshire countryside. Content to hold onto my prize, until a kick of the tail sent it back to the pool, I climbed out of the river and made it back to the van, as raindrops began bouncing off the roof.








Urban carp secret among the houses on bread punch.

July 10, 2014 at 7:17 pm

On a recent visit to a friend, who had just moved into my neighbourhood, I took a wrong turn on his housing estate and found myself at a dead end, my way blocked by a tree shrouded pond among the houses. Apart from a few openings in the trees, where ducks had been fed, the pond was completely overgrown. It had at some time been the ornamental pond to a large house, ivy covered steps and an inaccessible boat slipway surrounded by rusted railings, baring testament to this. The house and grounds were now gone, replaced by modern, but expensive houses hidden behind high walls and gates.

The lake is fed by a stream flowing from a nature reserve a mile upstream, where I’d seen carp swimming in it’s protected waters and wondered if any had migrated down to this little haven. A quick walk round before getting back in the car confirmed that this shallow pond did indeed hold a stock of fish, dimples in the middle at least indicating a shoal of rudd.

A few weeks later, I was forcing my way through the untended undergrowth, to an area just big enough to get my tackle box down, next to the stream inlet. A bit of trimming with snips soon had a space to get the pole working, although staking out my net, I realised that there was only six inches of water in close.

I hadn’t brought my boots, which meant that jacking up the box on it’s legs, further out in the pond, to find deeper water, was not on, unless I fancied wading in bare feet. I’m not that keen, so had to like it, or lump it. This decision was eased, when I plumbed the course of the stream and discovered another 18 inches of water. Perfect.



Today there were no signs of rudd on the surface, and opted to fish a new small dibber float, baited with a 7mm pellet of bread punch along the stream channel, just held back against the gentle inflow of water and put a couple of egg sized balls of liquidised bread in to get things moving. I was still sorting out my gear, getting comfortable, when my pole was almost pulled from my hand, as a good fish ran off with the bait, followed by the stretching pole elastic. I managed to fit a on a couple more metres of pole before the run stopped heading out, but then watched as it made for the trees on my right, more pressure and it rolled on the surface, a pound plus common carp.

A lucky start to the session? Another ball of bread was met by a swirling boil beneath it and the float slid away before it cocked. The elastic was out again, as a smaller common kited across the surface. They must live in this channel, waiting for the bread meant for the ducks, from the mums and kids of the estate.

Then the rudd moved in, some nice four ounce fish among them. Time for a heavier feed, mixing the liquidised bread with ground carp pellets and water, to put a thick carpet straight on the bottom of the channel, from six to nine metres out. I’d sneaked  some sweet corn from the freezer on my way out, but this was still frozen, so stuck with my biggest bread punch, squeezing two pellets together on the 14 hook. A typical rudd, lift and run bite was met with a solid juddering fight and a nice crucian carp was skating across the shallows.

The procession of fish to my net continued, until a slow sink away of the float saw the elastic go out and stay there, as a very large carp made it’s mind up what to do, before powering at a steady pace across the pond, while I extended my pole to it’s full eleven meters in pursuit of the fast disappearing elastic. Trying to keep an angle between the pole and this unseen lump, I hung on against the pressure. The possible double figure fish was not fighting, just swimming around stirring up the mud, anytime it wanted to really test my tackle, there would only be one outcome. The carp would win. Win it did, after what could have been ten minutes, a sudden spurt saw the elastic ping back into the tree to my side. The rig was tangled, but the 6lb main line allowed me to pull it out, less the hook on it’s 3lb line. It may have broken me, or the hook pulled out, I couldn’t tell. After this exertion my hands were shaking too much to repair the rig and reached inside my box for my well used waggler pole rig. The sweet corn had now thawed in the sun and I mixed a dozen pieces into the heavy mix and rebaited with it. The float lifted flat and another crucian was on, the earlier commotion not putting them off.

A rustle through the undergrowth behind me heralded ten minutes of nightmare. A big black labrador came charging into my little private clearing with a well chewed tennis ball in it’s mouth and dropped it beside me. It wanted me to throw it into the pond, picking it up and dropping it, panting and gesturing towards the water. I am not a doggy person, but on occasion have humoured the occasional dog in this way, but not when I have a swim full of fish eager to bite. With this he jumped in and turned expecting me to play, charging about and stopping, waiting for me to throw in the ball. “Oh bother”, or words to that effect. Another rustle and it was “Charlie’s” owner standing next to me. Charlie now went into hyperdrive, running back to the bank and out again. “Are you fishing?” the owner enquired. I just gestured around me in resignation. The owner reached down and threw the ball to the middle of the pond. Game over. I began packing up. “Sorry, we come here every day. I’ve never seen a fisherman here before!” I wonder why?

This had the makings of a fantastic haul of fish, under three hours of the bread punch, putting at least ten pounds in the net, the next three on the corn held the promise of many more. The penalty of these urban waters is that we anglers are intruding into the world of the general public, who have no understanding of our passion for fishing and it is us, who have to give way to the dog walkers, cyclists, duck feeders, etc.





Latimer Park Flyfishery Birthday Treat

July 5, 2014 at 11:10 am

My longtime friend Peter’s offer of a birthday treat, as his guest at Latimer Park Fishery, was gratefully accepted this week, following his report of three good fish he’d caught  before 9 am the previous day. Collected from my home and transported to this little jewel in the Buckinghamshire countryside, we arrived at 10:30 to be met by a dour faced bailiff, who told of very few fish caught by members that morning.

The priority for Peter and I was to enjoy the day for what it was, a day out in good company at a picturesque venue; catching fish would be a bonus. A slight ripple gave us confidence, Peter setting up with a red nymph, his successful fly of the day before, while I opted for legged gold head Hares Ear nymph, to be slowly worked back, off the bottom on a figure of eight retrieve. The two Latimer lakes are formed from dams across the Chess, which flows out of the chalk above the nearby town of Chesham, the river running in it’s channel down the centre of the upper lake, requiring a good cast to find the deeper water. There was little surface movement and no response to either nymph, so it was time for a change on my part to a buoyant Deerhair Sedge, the same fly serving me for years on rivers and lakes, when the fishing got hard. On a long leader, tipped down to 6lb breaking strain, I cast to the centre and waited in vain for a rise to this tasty looking morsel. Plan B, twitch the fly back to me, three inches at a time, every minute. Five minutes into this regime, a nose emerged on the surface observing the fly, another twitch and the line sank as the sedge was sucked in. A steady lift, pulled the line from the surface, making a solid contact, before catapulting the line back at me, as the hook lost hold.

Another missed fish for me and Peter changed over to a dry fly, getting into a trout straight away, which he then lost. This exciting, but frustrating interlude continued, until Peter was at last playing a good fish to the net. This 3lb rainbow was knocked on the head and another two pounder shortly after released. The guest rules are that we could catch seven fish in total, killing our first fish each, then the last fish of the day, whoever takes it. I was now feeling left behind, and was relieved to see a positive take of the fly, lifting into a big fish, that tail walked away from me and came off. Retrieving the line, a curled end to the tippet, showed that the line had parted at the knot, taking my favourite sedge with it. Together we had taken many a fish over the years and now it was gone. Tying on a replica, my next cast saw the fly vanish seconds after it touched the surface and I was playing another good fish, that just refused to come in, realising that I’d hooked it in the gill plate, which allowed the rainbow to swim away from me.

Eventually this fully finned, 20 inch, three pounder was on the bank, following what seemed a ten minute fight and during which time, Peter had hooked and landed yet another rainbow, which he released. This left us another three to take and with the wind swinging round, making casting difficult, we retired back to the club house for some lunch, topped up with plenty of banter with other club members.

During lunch the wind had dropped to nothing, leaving a flat calm with no apparent surface activity. We decided to change tactics to fish with small nymphs 18 inces below a yarn indicator. Arriving at the bankside, we could see from strings of small bubbles, that trout were feeding among the clumps of blanket weed on the edge of the deeper water and targeted this area. My first cast saw an instant, but hesitant response to the Diawl Bach nymph, the indicator bobbing and dipping, before gliding under, to be missed on the strike. Peter was having the same trouble and we both missed many unmissables, before I twitched back at a bob of the indicator and felt the solid pull from my second fish.

This perfect, recent stock fish was barely hooked in the nose, a sign that curiosity, not hunger had resulted in a visit to the bank. I held the fish in the cool water, until it was ready to swim off, the fight taking a lot out of this plump rainbow. The fun continued with plenty of offers and missed trout, during which time the sunshine had resulted in more blanket weed floating to the surface, making the static indicator tactic the only reliable method.

My third rainbow was hard won and fought like a demon, at one time spinning away from me and wrapping it’self in line and weed, torpedoing around the shallows, before I bullied it into the net. Peter had also hooked a fish, our joint seventh and it was this two pound rainbow that was taken. Static, or twitched artificials had worked on the day, the fish not interested in following a lure, or nymph, most of those members, who slogged away retrieving, going home fishless.

All in all an enjoyable day and certainly a birthday treat with a chauffeured cross country drive home. Thanks Peter.






Big chub on the dry fly compensates for small trout

June 24, 2014 at 12:32 pm

With the mayfly hatch long gone, I was not expecting much from a brief visit to my syndicate trout river, allowing a couple of late afternoon hours to keep the fishing urge at bay. Parking at the bridge, the river was still slightly coloured from a tributary half a mile upstream, that has been discharging run-off water all season.

No rain for over a week had dropped the level to a point, where I felt safe to enter the water downstream of the bridge, the winter floods having scoured out a deep run along my bank. Nothing was rising, but I’d seen trout mopping up mayfly here a fortnight before and knew it was worth trying a few casts with the bodied Mayfly still attached to my line from last time out. False casting to get the line out, the fly dropped close to the bank under the trees, where a back eddy meets the faster water and was consumed in a boiling rise immediately, catching me unawares, but making contact.

These wild brownies fight to the last and with my landing net out of reach, planted handle down in the bankside mud, I waited until the trout drifted back to my hand, to be released once unhooked. The mayfly was now sodden and I tied on a deer hair Sedge to search out the faster runs, making contact with, but losing seconds later, another small brown. It was time to climb back out of the river and and make my way across the uncut meadow to the downstream S bend.

From the high bank I could see fish rising all over the pool and circled round to avoid spooking them, getting into the river at the fast flowing tail and wading across to the inside of the bend, where the slower flow allows better presentation of a dry fly. Close to the outer bank a good fish was rising steadily to anything that drifted past, even a bumble bee and with the Sedge still attached, I measured my cast, planting the fly just upstream to drift into a solid take. The very silver fish jumped vertically clear of the water like a Polaris missile, it’s whole body quivering with energy, before plunging upstream into the deep pool and taking line against the ratchet. Picking up my landing net, I waded out into the pool in an effort to head it off, should the tumbling trout try to get downstream into the fast water. The pressure soon told and the shiny specimen was in the net.

Moving up, I targeted another regular riser in mid stream, but missed the take, as it made a grab for the skating fly. This put him down with no more rises. Further up a fish was dimpling along the side of the reeds, a small trout I thought, but the instant the fly was sucked in, the surface erupted from the response of a very large fish, that bent my rod to the butt, as it dived deep into the pool. This was a seriously large fish, that stayed down as it searched for an escape route, continually pulling back against retrieved line. At last it began to come back to me , only to run again, this time to the outside of the pool, where it turned and headed downstream. A massive chub. Staying in contact, with my long handled landing net wedged under my left armpit, I waded down and across in an effort to head it off, before it reached the rapid water at the tail of the pool. At this point it turned again and began to swim upstream, being able to bring it over and down into my waiting net.

This was my biggest chub ever, let alone on a flyrod, measuring 22 inches from nose to fork and helped return my respect for a fish that I have often regarded as “one run wonders”, this chub keeping me occupied for at least five minutes, with no certainty of being netted. Returned facing upstream in the net, it gathered it’s thoughts for a minute, then bolted back to the depths.

All the commotion caused by landing the chub had put an end to the rising fish and deciding to continue for another half hour, I tied on a gold head Hares Ear nymph to get down to the bottom of the pool. I missed two lightening takes, before making contact and seeing a silver flash beneath the surface, assumed it was a dace, but I was wrong, another bright wild trout coming to hand.

A near identical trout followed, our river being full of these bright brown trout variations. I’m not complaining, they fight just as hard and hopefully will be a few ounces bigger next season. While searching the pool upstream with the nymph, I heard a rise behind my left shoulder and saw a ring of water spreading out from just above the tail on the far side.

Keeping low, I eased my way back down to the bend and tried drifting the nymph over the now rising fish to no avail, so the Sedge was tied back on and second cast another small brown was on, dropping back into the run to put a bend in my rod.

My need to catch fish satisfied, I made my way back through the wilderness to the van and joined the early evening rush hour home for tea.








2014 Coarse Fishing Season opener with commons, crucians, a mirror and silvers

June 17, 2014 at 10:56 pm

With a busy week of non sporting commitments ahead, I was determined to get some coarse fishing into the half day after lunch available to me. A cheap white loaf was collected from Tesco and all but a few slices were liquidised, the remainder for bread punch bait. The freezer was raided and a handful of sweet corn bagged up ready for feed and hookers later. With all my gear loaded onto the trolley, I headed off on foot to the local recreation ground, where a pond nestles in one corner.

Since my last visit in the winter, the banks were high with new growth and I made an opening between two weed beds from where I hoped to draw out a few carp. Making myself comfortable with all I needed to hand, I mixed up some ground bait using two thirds liquidised bread, a third Super Cup with a sprinkling of ground hemp, then added water to the mix and allowed to stand, while I set up my pole at seven metres, breaking down to the top two. With crucians in mind, I set up with a cut down Canal Grey waggler, locked with two No4 shot and a No 4 five inches from the hook. Crucians feed head down, but pick up their food and swing up horizontal. This lifts the bottom shot and raises the float stem out of the water, indicating the bait is in their mouths. That’s the theory anyway.

With three balls fed across the 7 metere line and another couple at 8 metres, also a dozen pieces of corn scattered over the area, I was ready to fish. Starting on the bread punch, the float disappeared every minute and a succession of small rudd were swung in.

Small, but perfectly formed, the colour ranges of these rudd went from bright orange, through to green, one such having an ornamental gold look.

The rudd tally was mounting and every now and then I would exchange the bread for sweet corn on the hook, while occasionally feeding a few pieces of corn to the swim. The float sinking slowly away, indicated the first carp bite on the corn and a firm lift made contact with a perfectly scaled mirror carp.

A line of bubbles were now visible along the 7 metre line and every cast produced a positive bite on the corn, with small commons beginning to take with confidence, despite the sun beaming down from a clear afternoon sky.

I’d observed a large carp moving out of the weed bed to my right and minutes later, the float slid under and I was in. The heavy 12/18 elastic came out, as the carp woke up and made a rush toward the lilly bed opposite. With only 30 inches of water, there is nowhere for these fish to go and I followed across with two more lengths of the pole. The run was stopped and the fish arced round, heading steadily for the weed bed to my right, powering it’s way in, as I kept up the pressure. This was met by another surge and the size 14 barbless hook came out. The hook had opened out. I could have gone up to a twelve and used a heavy forged barbed hook, but I prefer the barbless for the minimal damage it does and accept the occasional lost fish, losing another two that afternoon.

Catching had slowed and more feed went in, bringing the rudd back on, taking several better fish on bread and corn.

The carp came on again, as bubbles appeared, but bites were harder to hit, bouncing, or missing three out of four, those landed being of the same stamp. There are usually plenty of 4 to 8oz commom carp to be had in this pond, but on this sunny day they were abscent.

The bites changed again, with the float bobbing, then lifting. Crucians. Timing the strike became a problem. Mostly the float would lift and stay there without moving off. The fish was still there, as more times than I care to remember, I lifted to feel contact, a quick dash across the surface and they were gone. The crucians were holding the corn in their lips and sucking the goodness out, without the chance of the hook taking a hold. I tried going back to the punch, but caught a string of rudd and roach. Finally I hung onto one long enough to get it into the net, the hook barely holding in the outer edge of the lip membrane.

I’d set my time limit to six pm, fishing through the heat of the afternoon. In an ideal world, this would have been the time to start, but with my supply of corn running out, two more crucians in the net and a specimen pound plus fish lost, when I tried to bully it into the net, I was ready to take the uphill walk home.

With fifty plus roach adding to the mix, the scales indicated over 10lb, a fair enough catch for four hours steady work, but fish bounced, or lost more than equalled those put in the net. Must try harder next time.




Mayfly fishing bonanza, mostly small stuff

June 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm

With the mayfly hatch in it’s second week on my syndicate water, I was eager to get down to the river for a decent afternoon session, before the trout became sated and turned their noses up at their favourite food.

Getting out of the van and resting my rod against the wing mirror, I was treated to the sight of a mayfly ready to take to the air. A good omen for the next few hours. Continued heavy showers, with some thunder mixed in, had added to the flow and colour of the river, but the sight of trout topping, spurred me on as I walked down through the meadow to begin fishing.

The lush green shoots of late spring were now hemming me in, as I waded upstream casting to rising trout, trying to place the Mayfly imitation with a light touch onto the surface. A boil and a brisk lift of the rod, saw the first of many small wild brownies skittering across the surface, as it battled for freedom.

Mayfly were lifting off ahead of me and I watched the Russian roulette, that is their last day of life, waiting as they sailed majestically downstream, wings upright ready to fly, some making it, while others were gobbled down by preoccupied trout. One such fly sank without trace amid a solid boil, that spread a ring across the river fifteen yards away, a flattened surface indicating deeper water at that point. Wading up a few more yards, I stopped to squeeze some Mucilin grease into the body of my Mayfly, then cast into the fast water above where I’d seen the rise. Three feet of travel and it was gone, this time the trout staying put as the hook was set, before exploding into an upstream run that took five yards of line from my reel. The trout dropped back at speed below me, to begin darting and spinning in the strong current, a lost fish seeming inevitable.  Reeling back the slack line, until tension was felt again, I tried to bring the manic brown upstream to my net, as it searched for an escape, managing to scoop it up, as it made another pass.

This was 14 inches of pure muscle, that was not beaten, even in the net and when unhooked, powered out of my hands back upstream without the need to recover. Further up a rise beneath overhanging bushes, offered a challenge.

Several side casts eventually put the fly under the branches, just inches from the edge and the trout dutifully rose to it with a swirl. Got him! Not the biggest trout in the river, but the satisfaction was in the presentation.

Thirty yards upstream, I could hear a large fish splashing at mayfly from a tight corner protected by an overhanging branch and moved up towards it. Getting into position to cast was not easy, with an overhanging tree behind me and the high stinging nettles on the bank, a roll cast across my front upstream was the only chance of getting the fly to the fish.

This corner had held a very large brown, that I had managed to lose earlier in the year and I had no doubt it was the same one aggressively slashing at every mayfly that came in range. Another fish was rising close to it and my first successful cast was taken by this, my elation at raising the trout vanishing, when I felt the resistance of a younger brother.

Not to decry this one, it fought all over the river, being charged up with a full belly and in perfect condition. All these trout have bred naturally in the gravelly runs, that give our little river character and it is a privilege to be able to fish for them.

The much larger trout continued to feed, ignoring my offerings. I put on my last undrowned bodied mayfly and watched it come up to nose the fly, then sink away with a flick of the tail. A big brown of about two pounds. Another cast saw the fly hit the water too hard and sink. I instintively pulled back to recast and the line went solid with a take. The rod arched over, then flicked back. It was gone and the line was now wrapped in a bird’s nest, tangled round a branch overhead. The fly was retrieved  and another tippet tied on, but that was my last chance at the big one. Maybe later in the year.

Wading further up round the bend, I saw a 12 oz brown clear the water chasing a mayfly, as it lifted off, the golden-green flanks of the brownie heavily dotted with big red spots. Another determined rise behind a clump of weed gave me a ready target, although once again overhead branches claimed my fly, proving that patience is a virtue needed by all fishermen. Ten minutes later I was back in action, having watched several rises from behind the clump. A cast to the side, a rise and fish on. The trout jumped, but it wasn’t the fish on my hook, a bright silver dace had taken and spooked the brown.

I decided that this would be my last fish from the two hundred yards of shallows and pools, losing count of those  hooked and released, eight to ten in the two hour session, which I knew would not be repeated once the mayfly bonanza was over. Walking the half mile back to the van with this in mind, I couldn’t resist the occasional cast, putting two more four ounce trout on my tally for the afternoon. Next week the fun will be over for another year, at least I know where the fish are.



CZ452 .17 HMR allows the grass to grow

June 3, 2014 at 11:10 am

A warm wet spring has allowed the grass to grow on my permissions this year, thanks to regular visits with my .17 HMR to keep the rabbit populations under control. It was satisfying this week to return to a small farm, where last year the grazing had been ruined by a rabbit explosion, the ground covered in scrapings and burrows.

Fifty rabbits later, the view over the paddock fence has been transformed, the grass had regenerated during the autumn, allowing the farmer to begin fattening some young Black Angus cattle, before moving them on to allow mother nature to take it’s course.

My first visit here had presented rabbits grazing unconcerned all over the paddock in front of me to the hedge line, but in a few minutes, using at first my Magtech 7022 .22 semi auto, then the CZ452 .17 HMR, I’d begun to change the situation.

This being the first of three small farms along a lane that I shoot, a quick look over the fence each time and shots with the HMR saw diminishing numbers of rabbits on view, to the point, that my last few visits had seen none. This week a patrol of the fence showed up a smudge of brown among the long grass over a hundred yards away and a sight through the scope confirmed two sets of ears poking up from the greenery.

Rotating the scope dial to the maximum x 12 magnification, I sighted on the nearest set of twitching ears, aimed at a point four inches below and fired. The the ears disappear. Had I missed? The other rabbit was now sitting up, head clear of the grass. Another bullet chambered and this one leapt clear with the impact. Although I’d kept my eye on the area, I had to quarter the ground to finally find the two rabbits, ten yards apart in the lush verdant growth.

Returning back to the house, the farmer had a big grin on his face, when he saw these two, thankful that the paddock and the rest of his land was back to full productivity.

Mayfly fishing between the showers

May 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Being a member of a syndicate on a small Hampshire river, my fishing days are Thursday, to Saturday and reports of larger trout now falling to the Mayfly, had me itching to get to the river on my opening day. However, heavy overnight rain and thunderstorms during the day made me doubtful, that the river would be fishable, when I finally ventured out in the early evening, encouraged by a break in the clouds.

Driving over the river, a look upstream confirmed my worst fears, it was the colour of Cadbury’s and up at least six inches. Hopeless. Parking up, I decided to walk back to the bridge and peered over. Downstream the air was filled with criss-crossing mayfly, having run the gauntlet and survived at least half a dozen trout dining on their brethren in the soup below. Back to the van in quick time, I was soon pulling on waders and grabbing my tackle, ready to cash in on this surprise bonanza, climbing the fence, before wading through wet, chest high cow parsley to reach the bank.

Last season’s No 1 artificial for me last year was the Shadow Mayfly, which was my choice today, it’s delicate palmer style body floating high on the surface. Float it did and ignored it was, trout rising all around it, but none taking. Try something different. The opposite in the box, a long bodied Mayfly Spinner, was cast among the feeding frenzy in front of me and equally ignored. Spoilt for choice, the trout seemed preoccupied with the mayfly still within the surface tension of the river, before they climbed out of their shucks to inflate their wings. Snipping the body in half, I cast back in to an instant take, an 8 oz brown tumbling beneath the surface, before being lifted clear of the high bank. At this point I realised that in my haste to fish, I’d left the camera in the van, so fish returned, I walked back to retrieve it. The pitter patter of rain, turned to torrential before getting back to my rod, sheltering against a tree trunk, while waiting for the storm to pass.

Five minutes later the worst was over, but so was the hatch and I headed off downstream through long grass to an S bend, where the river opens out to a large pool, seeing on my approach steady rises across the shallows at the tail. Swallows were swooping across the meadow and a white barn owl silently patrolled the hedgrows, as I worked my way round in a wide loop to keep out of sight of the trout. On such a wet evening, my chest waders allowed me to push through the fresh growth of nettles without a soaking, although waves of light showers were rapidly dampening my top half.

Despite constant false casting, my clipped spinner sank each time, so another was tied on and cut short, to disappear in a boil, the second it touched the surface. I’d not recovered from the cast and missed the take. It could have been a dace, there are plenty here. More casts, another boil and a silver fish was on, a V shaped bow wave spilling over into the run below. A hint of gold and a solid rod bending fight, revealed a chunky brown, that was soon planing against the current to my net.

The rain came on again in earnest, but the trout were still hitting the mayflies as they drifted down, and with fresh shortened Mayfly Spinner tied on, another trout had fallen to the artificial.

I’d never experienced catching trout on dry flies during a rainstorm, let alone with added hail, as in the above picture, but it was happening and not putting off the fish, or the flies. With cold, wet, hands the soaked fly was removed, a new spinner clipped down, then tied on to be cast up and across to deeper water, where a better trout was showing. This was in the area where I’d missed the first take, this time it smashing into the fly with a wallop that was unmissable. What a difference another six ounces makes to a fish, this time it was a two way fight, with no guarantee, who would win, as it dived back into the depths of the pool, before surfacing, then dropping down into the fast water below me, where I allowed it to take line, until it stopped. Reeling the trout back upstream, as it bucked and dived is a pleasure, that has often resulted in a lost fish, but this time the size 10 hook held on.

My last fish of the evening, again another very fat, silver, brown trout, that fought all the way to the net. The rain was falling steadily and the light was waning, as I struggled through the waist high greenery back to the van. You don’t have to be mad to do this, but it helps!