Month: <span>May 2021</span>

After last week’s blank at the irrigation reservoir, I decided to pay a second visit to a water nearer home where I had some success last year and wrote about it in my Blog on 6th February about fishing next to four year old Ben. The weather was still unseasonably cold with showers and wind but the morning started off sunny and still with showers forecast and when I arrived at the venue there was no-one else there and I continued to have the place to myself all day.

I decided to start by walking around the lake, taking the advice of anglers on YouTube and the book that my wife bought me for my birthday and found a few fish on the surface but when I got to the other side I came across a group of about twenty carp just lying under the surface soaking up the sun. A few yards along there was another group and then another one, I reckoned that there were over fifty fish altogether. I decided that I would try and catch a fish on the surface and so tackled up with a bubble float and a size ten hook, put some bread on and cast out. At first the fish took no notice and were not spooked by the float but then one sucked on the bread and pulled it off the hook. This happened a couple of times more before the float started to drift away and I struck and was into a fish. A few minutes fight and it was into the net and landed, my best fish so far this year and the first one ever caught from the surface! I decided to weigh it and it came to 9.68. 9.68 what, I don’t know. In the hurry to get it done I couldn’t work out how to switch from kg to lb and it didn’t seem to tell me! So much for digital scales! Next on the shopping list is a pair of simple spring scales which don’t require batteries or adjusting in any way!

It is hard to take pictures of fish underwater!

Then it started to rain, so I quickly put the brolly up and gathered all my gear under it, it just fits but there isn’t room to do anything under it if you haven’t got a rod out so I passed the time by throwing in some groundbait where I was going to put the feeder rod out and texting a picture of my carp to my wife. After about twenty minutes it stopped raining so I got my feeder rod in with maggots and got out my other carp rod with the adjustable zig rig and cast out to where the carp were showing in the middle of the lake. In the meantime I put some particles in my swim and some well soaked muesli and Tesco small dog mixer, which floated. There followed a period of quiet reflection until the carp started showing up in my swim again eating the dog mixer so I brought the rig in closer. Still no luck so I went back to the surface rig and watched the carp cruise slowly by and ignore the bread until one slowly took it and I was in again! Another nice fish landed proving that it wasn’t just a fluke!

Lunchtime passed quietly and although I was getting knocks on the feeder rod I wasn’t getting any fish. Just as I thought that I was getting the hang of it I don’t seem to be able to catch anything, well not much as I did bag a fairly small roach. After lunch I decided to have a walk along the bank and spotted a number of carp cruising in the far corner where the wind was now blowing so decided to relocate there. Over the next hour I caught four more carp off the surface to make a grand total of six for the day, my best ever! It looked like rain again and time was getting on so I decided to call it a day and gathered everything together in no kind of order which meant two trips to the car and back, will I never learn?

So, an interesting day, taking the advice to look for fish and adapt my tactics paid off with half a dozen carp caught from the surface, the first time I have ever tried this technique. I will have to look up how to get bread to stay on a hook though as it sometimes came off when casting, perhaps Tesco’s cheapest isn’t the best to use! I was a bit disappointed about the lack of silverfish on the feeder though but you can’t have it all! I am just hoping that the weather picks up and the fish get more active as I reckon I could have had a lot more if they hadn’t been so sluggish!

Just one of the fish I caught


I did go fishing this week, in fact I went twice, the second time because the first was a blank! It was to the furthest club lake and I only went as it was part of my target to fish every club water. It was right out in the country and very quiet, one of those places where you don’t even hear traffic noise which is most unusual where I live! It was a farm irrigation reservoir and I have to say that these are not my favourite waters as they are usually square with steep banks and fairly featureless, not at all attractive. When I arrived there was one angler there and he had been there since five a.m. and caught nothing! It was about nine by the time I arrived and I had a walk round to find a swim. The water was high which left very few places with a bit of flat ground to put my brolly up as rain was in the air but I eventually decided on a swim in the corner and set my gear up. 

I fished a feeder rod with maggots fairly close in near some reeds and thought that I would be into some silverfish this way. I fed the swim, put the rod out then got out my carp rod. I had set it up with an adjustable zig rig which I had seen on YouTube and thought I would give it a try. It was not as easy as I thought but I eventually managed to get the hang of it, sort of! Then I waited. The occasional fish was jumping out of the water so I knew they were there but nothing took the bait. I fed the swims, recast the rods, waited patiently but nothing. Time passed, it rained, it stopped, a pheasant came to see me and ate some of the sweetcorn I threw for it and strutted its stuff!

I changed the depth of the zig rig, I moved the feeder rig a bit further away I changed baits but nothing! Not a bite, not a twitch, nothing. Soon it was lunchtime and I decided to bring the feeder rod in and put out another carp rod with a method feeder as I could see the carp still jumping and one cruised past my swim and the first cast was taken by the wind and straight into the bushes! After a struggle I managed to retrieve it and cast out. I settled down to lunch hoping that I would get a bite when my sandwich box was balanced on my knee but still no luck. By mid-afternoon I was getting frustrated, the other angler had given up and gone home and I decided to follow his example. I packed up and left feeling that I had wasted my time. My wife says she can tell what sort of session I have had as soon as I come in the door, in this case she was right!

I woke up a couple of days later with the wind howling around the house and the feeling that I wanted to go fishing. I had a few things to do first but I thought that I knew just the place, the neglected lake just up the road. There is only one swim so I hoped that no-one else would be there so stripped down my tackle bag and took my float rod and set off. A few minutes later I was there and the swim was free and, as I anticipated it was sheltered from the wind and the trees overhead would keep off most of the rain! One thing about travelling light is that it doesn’t take long to set up and I was soon fishing. I had brought my keep net, which I don’t usually bother with, as I thought that I might catch a few fish and a group photo would be good. First cast and the float dipped but I missed it! Second cast and there was a wait, I thought that it might be harder going in the day time as I have had better luck in the evening so I was prepared to be patient. Then the float did one of its trademark slow slide aways for this lake and I was into my first fish, a small tench. I had to be patient before the next bite but tidying my gear up away from the rain kept me busy for a bit then another bite, or was it? I decided to wind the line in and there was another small tench on the hook.

Although I was catching it was very slow for this water so I decided to shallow the rig and try in different parts of the swim, not that there is a vast expanse you can fish as the hornwort is growing back quickly and will have soon taken over again. This time the float started to drift with the wind so that I knew that I was fishing above the weed and I soon had several more fish, mostly from the same spot. I had been feeding the swim with pellets and maggots as groundbait is not allowed and decided to concentrate on this spot which was right next to the weed and was pulling out fish on almost every cast. The tench were biting very gently even though I had a very small float on but occasionally the float would vanish suddenly and I had one of the varieties of small carp on the hook. I had only meant to go for an hour or two and hadn’t taken any lunch but hey, who wants to go home when they are catching fish?

About two o’clock I decided that enough was enough and packed up and brought in the keep net to take a picture. I had caught 29 fish, mostly tench but with a good number of carp and nothing very big which is the way with this pond. I felt much better about myself and had also seen a bit of nature as a heron had paid a quick visit and I also saw a jay, colourful birds. Of course, travelling light I only had my phone camera and so didn’t get a decent picture of either of them. 

So, what have I learnt from this week? That I like catching rather than fishing, that I don’t have the patience to be a serious carp angler and that perhaps I had a bit of luck last summer. I certainly haven’t been catching at that level this year but then summer hasn’t started yet where I live! I have also been missing the river but it is only a few weeks until I can get back there and I am looking forward to it. In the meantime I am hoping that the weather will pick up so that I can go sailing!

A nice net of small ones!


At the beginning of writing this blog I wrote in the About page that my main hobby was sailing and that I had gone back to fishing because I couldn’t sail last year. This year sailing is back on the agenda and I have been getting the boat ready over the last couple of weeks after nearly two years out of the water. I have not been at the sailing club all day every day but when you are fixing things there is only so much that you can do each day before you have to bring more tools or buy stuff that you need. It’s a good job that I only live thirty minutes drive from the boat!

Anyway, during this time I was thinking about what to write for this week and I started comparing fishing and sailing. They have a lot in common as they are both outdoor activities that involve water! The weather is also important to both and I would have to say that for me fishing has the edge as with a bivvy or umbrella you can stay out in the kind of conditions that would have me sailing for home pretty quickly! Both activities have clubs, although you don’t have to join one and you can do both with friends or on your own. One difference is that you have to have a licence to go fishing but not sailing. Strange as it may seem anyone can buy a boat and sail off into the distance without any training whatsoever and sometimes people do. They are often, but not always, the ones that you see on those lifeboat rescue programmes on TV!

Then there is the cost and believe me that despite what you hear about “carp tax” sailing is a far more expensive hobby! For me the annual subscription for my angling club is well under £100 and that is all the annual expenses I have, anything else is bait and new gear. I pay £850 per annum for my sailing club but that does include a mooring on the river for my boat and a space in the dinghy park for my sailing dinghy. If you think that is a lot then mooring my boat into a marina would cost three times as much and if I moved her to the Solent, the Mecca of English sailing, you could double that again! Then there is insurance for both boats which is another £300 so I have already spent well over £1000 without actually stepping on my boat! Then there are the ongoing costs, diesel, oil, filters, mooring fees if you visit somewhere else, repairs because things break, improvements because you want to make the boat better etc. etc.

Because mine is a self-help sailing club where everyone mucks in together the fees are pretty low and they can be even less with a smaller, older boat but you always have to be aware of the ongoing fixed costs. Older boats are not worth much and people are now giving them away in order to stop paying the storage fees on them. Of course you can always spend much more on your boat and gear than I do, just like you can for fishing. You can buy a new rod from Sports Direct for £11.99 or pay hundreds for a top name brand but just to give you some idea of the cost difference between sailing and fishing here is a comparison.

A Fox winter suit £174.99 from Angling Direct. This is high quality carp gear which will keep you warm and dry. Force 4 Chandlery will sell you a Musto coastal suit which will also keep you warm and dry in normal conditions for £289 or an Offshore suit for more extreme conditions for £469 and you can pay more, much more!

How about shorts? Musto Evolution Performance shorts at £99.95 compared to the highest price on Angling Direct of £39.99. Or Scierra Tracer Wading Shoe Cleated Sole for £109.99 when they are in stock compared to Dubarry Ultima sailing boot for £278.95. 

It is hard to make other direct comparisons between the sports but the overall picture is one of higher prices for sailing and even if you are doing it on a shoestring it is still more expensive. I noticed that a replacement pair of sailing wellies is going to cost me £69 so I hope mine are going to last a few more years yet! 

So, where does this leave me? Hopefully going fishing next week as the weather forecast is not great for sailing, chilly, rainy, low pressure, maybe the carp will be biting, I will let you know!


I live just a few minutes away from one of the club’s lakes or should I say ponds which I have driven past hundreds of times over the years and only occasionally seen anyone fishing there. It is rather neglected and the banks are overgrown and there is only one fishable swim and even that is overhung by low trees and bushes. To make matters worse the pond itself is overgrown with weed which grows right up to the surface and makes it unfishable. I did try in the autumn and again a couple of times in the winter when the weed had died down a bit, I even took a rake over there and pulled out loads of weed but as soon as I did that it was replaced by other weed! I didn’t catch anything, in fact I didn’t even have a bite so you could say that I had unfinished business there!

I noticed on the club’s Facebook site that one or two people have been fishing there recently and have caught a variety of small fish so I decided to give it another go. When I got there, would you believe it, there was already an angler there occupying the swim. We had a chat and he told me that he had caught a few and then I went home determined to come back another time. It was a quiet evening a few days later when I was able to get back with the minimum of tackle and a chair. The first few casts didn’t go well, I caught a tree branch, another tree branch and a third tree branch! On the last occasion I lost my hook but managed to reclaim my float. Tackling up again and being more careful I managed to get my hook in the water and started tidying up around me and getting everything to hand. I was fishing with home made maggots as hook bait and throwing a few in the water around the float. My expectations weren’t high so I was a bit slow when the float started to move but still managed to land the smallest tench you have ever seen! My duck was broken!

A quick photo for evidence and it was plopped back in the pond and I was casting out again only to see the float dithering about again and it was another tench, slightly bigger. I decided to change the float for a lighter one and managed to find a canal type float in my box with a very fine tip. This made it difficult to see against the reflection of the reeds opposite but by craning my head I could managed to keep track of it as it slowly drifted across the pond. There was no chance of fishing on the bottom because of the weed, you had to fish above it.

The finer float didn’t make a lot of difference, bites were tentative and I was often left wondering if it was really a bite or not but mostly when I struck there was a fish on the end. 

I kept feeding the swim with a few loose maggots and also some sweetcorn and was getting a bite every few minutes. The tench were slowly getting bigger until I had one that I needed to use the landing net for, he must have been at least half a pound! Then there was a change to a very small carp, a baby mirror carp and then something much bigger was on the end and began taking line from the reel. After a short fight I did need to use the landing net for what I thought was a nice Crucian but which, I was told later, was a brown goldfish. Nice fish though and lovely to see it. Then it was back to tench, a small rudd and I was just thinking of packing up as it was getting too dark to see the float when there was another nice Crucian style fish to end the evening.

I went home well pleased with my trip. Fourteen fish of five different species in just under two hours was much more than I expected and the grin on my face lasted all evening! It was my best session of the year. I will definitely be going back to the pond before the weed grows and makes it unfishable again. At least I ticked off another water where I have caught fish, just three waters where I haven’t caught anything but that is because I haven’t fished them yet!


One of the things I was looking forward to in my first year back angling was fishing in the spring. The last time I was fishing the close season applied to all waters and I would yearn to be on the bank on those warmer spring days when the leaves were showing, the birds singing and the promise of summer was just around the corner. Unfortunately it has not been like that this year as we have been stuck under a high pressure system for weeks. Yes, it has been sunny and dry, there are even cracks appearing in the ground, and while it may have been warm in other parts of the country it is still chilly here with the north and easterly wind coming over the North Sea making me not want to brave the cold too often!

However, I had the chance to go fishing in the afternoon and evening so despite the wind and the cloud which had arrived I took the opportunity to go to my usual lake to see how it fished at that time of day. When I arrived there was no-one else there and I wondered if they knew something that I didn’t. I set up in one of my usual swims so that I could do a comparison and it had the advantage of being a bit sheltered from the wind as well. I had remembered to bring some other bait so put sweetcorn on the feeder rod with groundbait and home made maggots on the float rod. Soon the float dipped and I had my first fish, a baby roach, so far so normal! Then it went quiet for a spell until another small roach pulled the float under.

During this session I was pestered by the ducks again, while I was sitting still they would come right up to me, between my legs and pecking up groundbait that I had dropped and even tapping on the bait box lids to try and feed there. They became a real nuisance as I had to make sure that the lids were on everything including my tackle box as they even had a go at that! I was also worried about hooking one of them when I was re-baiting or filling up the feeder and even considered moving only I thought that they would just follow me to my new swim. The only thing that would deter them was if I waved my landing net in their direction but they would be back as soon as I put it down. If they weren’t on the bank they were in the swim with their friends swimming across the line and making the float bob. Now, I consider myself as an animal lover but these creatures tried my patience and I did begin to wonder how they would go with plum sauce!

Anyway, back to the fishing. I have written before about not getting the feeder right so decided to use a different bait to see if I could attract bigger fish and it seemed to work, the quiver tip pulled round and it was definitely a bite! Unfortunately I missed it but cast out again to the same spot. I caught another small roach on the float which was getting difficult to see as the clouds had now parted and I was looking directly into the evening sun. Sunglasses helped but made everything else a bit dark! Then the feeder rod twitched again and this time I was into a better fish a nice roach which I landed this time. It was getting towards sunset when my phone rang, it was my sister telling me about our parents. They are both in their nineties and their health is beginning to go which is causing problems. We were chatting away when I realised that I couldn’t see my float, I checked the rod tip and the line was jerking about so I put the phone down and struck. I could tell that this was a different fish by the way it felt but soon had it into the landing net where the hook obligingly fell out! It was a small carp which was attracted to the sweetcorn I had changed to for a while. It was the last fish of the day and as the sun slowly slipped under the horizon I took off my dark glasses, packed up and went home.

A slightly better roach on the feeder

So, what did I prove? That the fish didn’t come on to feed in the evening, that I could catch on the feeder and that you can’t get away from life’s problems even if you are fishing! I also decided that I have had enough of the ducks and will go back to trying new waters until I have achieved my target of fishing them all. I just hope that it warms up a bit over the coming weeks, after all it will be May soon and I want to fulfil my dream of fishing on those warm spring days!

A small carp but the biggest fish I have caught this year!