Author: <span>Thirdageangler</span>

I felt well enough to have a session on my own so decided to go to the local pond again one evening. It had been a sunny day but there was a chilly wind so I put a fleece on and took a waterproof jacket in my rucksack. I had spent the afternoon going through my gear so that I would take only the essentials as although it was only a few minutes’ walk I didn’t want to overdo it. A flask of tea and I was ready. I managed the walk without any problems and soon set up my gear. I was using my float rod and had it set to the depth which I was catching fish last time which was about three feet. A single red maggot on the hook and a neat cast out saw the float bobbing a couple of inches out of the water. Far too high for any fishing especially with the shy bites in this water and the wind was blowing it about wildly. Clearly I had lost a shot since last time so I reeled in and looked in my box for a small shot. Not for the first time I reminded myself that I needed to get some more shot but after some searching around I found one which balanced the float just right with only the tip showing out of the water.

I waited confidently for a bite and began to notice my surroundings, the birds singing, the wind in the trees, the road traffic next to the pond and the pond itself. There were rings on the surface where fish were rising and one or two splashes where fish were jumping. It was idyllic if a little cold. As the sun went down the breeze was getting colder and I soon had my waterproof jacket on as well. I made a few casts without catching anything then the float bobbed and I was into my first fish, not a tench as I had suspected but a rudd. The fish were still rising and jumping but I was not catching as much as usual and it was a good ten minutes before I caught the next fish, another tiny rudd. I had put some groundbait in but it was not doing a lot of good so I cast into a different area. The float was ominously still so I brought it in with a nice lump of weed on the hook. This happened a few times in different places so I shallowed up to about two feet hoping that I was now above the weed. 

Another camera shy Tench!

Then came a period where I was catching a fish every few minutes, mostly rudd but a few tench who didn’t like to keep still for their photo, curling themselves up and slipping out of my hand at the first sign of me opening my fingers so that I could take a picture. Then something different, the float rapidly shot away and I was into another fish, it didn’t put up much of a fight, in fact I wondered if I had caught another load of weed but I soon saw an orange flash beneath the surface, another goldfish! I have been catching one every time I have been to the pond recently and they have all been different. God only knows how many there are in the pond, obviously the local residents have been putting them in and they seem to survive and avoid the heron. I know that there are more than I have caught because other anglers have been putting them on the club’s Facebook page.

Then it went quiet for a bit, I tightened the zip on my jacket as I was feeling the chill and decided to take the rod around the lake for a speculative cast. Finding a clear swim was not easy as the weed is in full growth and the light was beginning to go but I found one or two but didn’t have a bite. Then I got to the far side of the pond which looked fairly clear and caught another rudd and tench before I decided to go back and sit in my chair, huddle up and try to keep warm. It was deep into dusk although I could still see my float and the fish had come on to feed again and it was a fish a cast. The temperature was dropping and I started shivering, I was wearing four layers on a May evening and was shivering, what a country we live in! I decided that enough was enough and quickly packed up what little gear I had and went home. It had been an interesting session and I was surprised how much activity there was on the surface and left wondering if I could catch them with a fly or small piece of bread, something to try another time.

I wonder how many goldfish there are in this water!

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I ought to start by thanking everyone who sent me their best wishes as I wrote my last blog from my hospital bed after suffering a heart attack. To bring you up to date I had an angiogram, a stent fitted and was sent home the next day with strict instructions to take it easy! Now, that is easier said than done especially as I was feeling better than I had for a long time and I soon wanted to go fishing again. For the first few days my wife didn’t want to let me out of her sight so she said that she would come with me, we took the minimum of gear and went to the pond over the road which the club had been renovating. It was a freezing morning for April so we were both dressed up to keep warm.

I decided that I would just use the float rod and try the usual tactic of fishing shallow and deepening up until I found the fish or the weed. It wasn’t long before the float dipped and it was the first of many tench. They don’t grow very big and the missus was amazed by the colour as they were the first live tench she had ever seen. I suppose there was a fish every few minutes, mostly tench but with the occasional rudd. All the bites were tentative so you had to keep a sharp eye on your float! I was fishing red maggot which I found works well on this water but towards the end of the session switched to white and first cast hooked a different fish. It began to take line as the drag was very lightly set but I soon got it to the net and could see that it was a crucian or at least a brown goldfish. I tried for another one but only caught another tench so decided that as the missus was complaining about being cold and it was nearly lunchtime we would go home. Still, it was nice to get on the bank doing something that I enjoy again.

A beautiful tench

The following week was one of those manic ones where you have something going on every day so much for taking it easy! I didn’t have time to go fishing but I did get time to think about it and one of my trains of thought was about lugging all my gear to a swim. Being in a fairly rural area our club waters tend to be farmer’s reservoirs or disused gravel pits and the car park can be a good walk from the water. Normally I can manage this with a secondhand barrow and a few stops along the way but as I am not supposed to be overdoing it I asked on the club’s Facebook page which waters had swims where you could park the car next to them. The replies I got showed me that I don’t know the club’s waters as well as I thought I did!

Small but perfectly formed!

I also snatched a few moments to read and came across a paragraph by Arthur Ransome which seemed to sum up my feelings about blanking and whether or not the session was then a waste of time.

“It began, instead with a lesson on failure in general. Failure it seems, depends entirely on our choice of what we are to consider success. For just so long as I was full of ambition to fill a basket with large grayling the day was a miserable failure. As soon as I abandoned this ambition as fantastic the day turned into success. Until this moment of, if you like, resignation, I had not known that I was enjoying myself very much. That was because I had been ruling out all the pleasure except that of catching grayling and these were not to be caught. I was now open to pleasure of other kinds.”

Seems to sum it up well and I must remember that it is not all about catching and there are other pleasures to be obtained in going fishing. I wonder if I will remember that the next time that I blank!

A nice crucian?

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I have been thinking about writing a general blog on my thoughts on angling for some time and now I have the ideal opportunity. Why? I hear you ask. Well, I woke up at five thirty last Saturday morning with a sharp pain in my chest which quickly tuned into an excruciating one and I was clammy and sweaty and began to lose my vision. By this time my wife and son were getting worried and urging me to get into the car and they would take me to A&E. That was all very well but I couldn’t move! Gradually the pain started to ease and I went downstairs and got in the car and soon arrived at A & E to find it mercifully quiet. For those of you who think I should have called for an ambulance I can only think that you haven’t had to do that recently, I would still be waiting!

Anyway, they triaged me and quickly took some blood tests and did an ECG which showed that I had a problem so I was admitted and the day was spent in taking tablets, having injections and blood tests and more ECGs. I was kept in overnight and transferred to the area specialist unit where I still am. I am much better but they are keeping me under observation and are going to do an angiogram some time. All I can say is that if you are going to have a heart attack don’t have it on a Bank Holiday! The emergency system still works but many of the other staff are on holiday and when they come back to work on Tuesday there is the Bank Holiday backlog to deal with!

So that is how come I have time to write about not going fishing, because I haven’t recently!

The catalyst for this particular blog was a discussion on a Facebook forum about how nice it was to go fishing now that the weather had improved and Spring was springing and it didn’t matter too much if you blanked or not. It made me think about my angling journey and how anxious I was to catch fish when I first started. I was lucky and did catch every time I went out and surprised myself with my first carp and some lovely tench and was really happy. How easy this fishing lark is, well until the day I got my first blank. Doubts set in, what was I doing wrong? How come I wasn’t catching in the same swim where I was pulling them out only a few days before? I was depressed and full of self-doubt and seriously thinking about giving up as I was just wasting my time. I chucked my gear in the shed and got on with other stuff.

It wasn’t long before I got the urge to go fishing again so I got my tackle out of the further recesses of the shed, checked it over, found my rough treatment hadn’t harmed it and went fishing. I had a good session and caught some nice fish so normality was restored. Some weeks later I blanked again and this time I took it better, it was one of those things that happened from time to time. It was about this time that I started to read angling books on Kindle unlimited and devoured one a week, books by matchmen, specialist anglers, carpers, etc. etc. and I began to understand just how many branches of angling there were. There are also some anglers who can only be described as eccentric in the finest British tradition. They don’t fish in the close season, even where it is allowed, they only use traditional cane rods, seek out waters that no-one else knows about or look for wild carp that have not interbred with modern strains, the list is endless. They talk about their lives and their friends and being in the country more than going fishing and what they catch.

This idea is not new, Arthur Ransome wrote a weekly column on fishing for the Manchester Guardian in the nineteen twenties and he was an expert at writing a weekly column on fishing without mentioning casting a line on the water! His articles were made into a book with the title “Rod and Line” which is available secondhand cheaply. Reading it nearly a hundred years later it is rather old fashioned, middle class and quaint but overall still as relevant today as it ever was.

Another guy that writes about fishing is Fennel Hudson. He is one of the eccentrics that I mentioned  and has gone through the stages of living and working in the country, moving to the city and joining the rat race then having a breakdown and moving back to the country to find tranquility. He wrote about this in a journal and has written other books and has his own website. He is another one who writes about the pleasure of being out in the countryside and not just what he catches. In one of his stories he takes this to extreme when he and his friends stay in a lodge next to their secret carp lake and spend the whole week without wetting their lines! Needless to say beer was involved!

These guys and others have helped me come to terms with blanking and seeing the bigger picture that it is not all about catching but is about being there and enjoying the environment, the flash of a kingfisher, carp cruising on the surface, moorhens and coots calling to each other, the robin that perches nearby comes and eats your maggots when you throw him some. The list is endless and not to be found sitting at home vegging out on the settee!

So, where does this leave my blog? Well, it actually gives me more to write about and gets away from the same old story of “went fishing, caught some fish, went home” which can quickly become boring. In fact I already seem to have started by writing this one in which I don’t go fishing at al!  I just hope that you will come with me on the rest of my angling journey wherever it takes me. 

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Yesterday we dragged the small lake and removed loads of silt, leaves, branches and weed. Today it was time to see how it fished. The weather was lovely for the time of year and we were in the middle of a warm spell. I hoped that the water had warmed up a bit and that the fish were biting. It didn’t take long to get there as the lake is just over the road from where I live and I was able to walk there in a few minutes. I was the only one there and decided to fish in the central swim which was the one that I always fished before because it was the only accessible swim!

I took two rods, a feeder rod to see if I could catch anything on the bottom and a float rod. As is my usual practice when fishing this combination of rods I set up the feeder rod first and cast it out into a place that we had dragged yesterday and which I was hoping was weed free. Then the time for a float rod, a small waggler dotted down so about a quarter of an inch showed and a red maggot on a size eighteen hook then it was time to sit down and take a look around. The water was looking good, the only thing that I was worried about was the sun as I couldn’t find any sun cream at home which was surprising as we usually have two or three bottles around. Over the last few years I have developed some non-malignant skin cancers which have needed to be operated on and which were caused by sun damage to my skin, probably when I was a child as we all used to go out in the sun and get burnt without really thinking about it, fifty years later it came back to bite me! 

A Tench doing the curling up thing that they do here

Anyway, I digress, I moved my chair to the shade and carried on fishing. After a few minutes the float slowly went under and I was into my first fish, a small tench. I have caught these before and I know that there are plenty of them but nothing very large so far. I waited for about ten minutes and another tench slightly bigger bit nothing to write home about! The fish kept coming about every ten minutes although it did drop off towards the middle of the day which is what other people have posted on the club’s Facebook page. Three tench then a roach, which was a much more definite bite then another tench then the float shot under and I could feel something a bit different on the line. I was easily able to see it as I brought it towards the bank, it was a goldfish! The body looked in good condition but the tail was suffering a bit from fin rot, still it made a change and I expect that it had been released into the pond by someone from the housing estate across the road when they didn’t want it any longer! Another tench then a little carp, possibly a crucian or hybrid, then a couple more tench before I decided to go home for lunch. 

Another tench showing its beautiful colours

So, a reasonable session in which I caught four species of fish although nothing very big. The tench were interesting as they have a lovely dark green colour and a habit of curling up as you try to unhook them or take their picture! I had nothing on the feeder rod, not a twitch which made me think that it is still too murky on the bottom for the fish to see the bait but I will persevere, there have to be some bigger fish in there somewhere, otherwise where did all the little ones come from? Actually I can’t make up my mind whether these are young fish or stunted adults. The lake has been neglected and weed choked for so long that I rather think that the fish have not been able to grow to full size. I have not heard of any predator fish being caught and except for the occasional heron the fish have been able to live in relative safety. One other thing that I noticed was that the traffic sound, which is very intrusive at first, fades into the background after a while and you hardly notice it, which is a blessing! Anyway I enjoyed myself and will be back as this venue is just the job when I have an hour or two to spare.

Someone found a new home in the lake for their goldfish!

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Once upon a time, because all good stories begin that way, there was a small lake on the edge of town, which belonged to an angling club.  Not many people fished there because you had to walk to it but those that did caught some splendid fish, carp, eels, crucians, silverfish, all sorts really. Then came progress, houses were built and a by-pass constructed and part of the lake was taken for development. The main road bordered one side of the lake and traffic thundered past, the lake was no longer the tranquil location it had been and people slowly stopped visiting it. The swims and the access paths became overgrown and weed choked the lake. In bad years blue-green algae grew and the lake was out of bounds. Drivers glancing at the lake as they passed by would have seen a sorry sight, occasionally illuminated by the odd angler or hopeful heron but for all intents and purposes the lake was an unloved wasteland. 

It’s a bit overgrown, you can’t see the bank!

Time passed, the Angling Club got new blood and began to work with the Environment Agency, the lake was recognised as being in need of urban renewal or some such buzz word, funds were forthcoming, plans were laid. Then came Covid and everything was put on hold but with the easing of restrictions things started to happen. The first thing that was needed was to clear the access to the lake and so a work party was formed. People turned up for various reasons, they lived near or they had fished the lake in their younger days and were nostalgic. Brambles were cut, trees marked for trimming and by the end of the first day you could see the difference! The work party went home thinking that they had made a good start. Then came a delay, summer came and the odd person began to fish the lake which was full of small fish, tench and various species of carp, nothing bigger than your hand. Then the weed got too thick and it was impossible to fish, when the weed died down in the winter the fish had gone to sleep and fishing was hard.

Clearing the Undergrowth!

During the winter several more work parties were held. One of the members used a chain saw to cut brushwood and trim the trees. A contractor dug out and levelled paths and removed some larger trees. By the time spring came the lake was looking much better with an open aspect and half a dozen swims, it looked like the place was being cared for but there was still a lot of weed to cope with. The club had a plan and the first stage was to use their newly purchased weed rake to try and remove some of it and so a working party was called for again. When the guys had remembered how the rake fitted together a happy morning was spent dredging the waters. Lots came up, mostly silt with oak leaves, weed, sticks and branches and a few fish which were carefully removed and placed in a bucket to be returned later. By the end of the session tons of stuff had been removed and the helpers were thoroughly splattered! All the guys stood round saying what a good job they had done and how the lake could now be fished properly. One of the helpers said that he would come back in the morning and give it a try but that is a story for another day! Everyone went home feeling satisfied with their efforts and with what could be done when people set their minds to it! 

The new access path
Some of the silt we raked up
The weed rake being floated out for another pull opposite one of the remodelled swims

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It wasn’t meant to be a short session, it just turned out that way! For various reasons I hadn’t been fishing for a while so decided to take one last trip to the river before the season ended. It was mild and sunny as I drove to my usual spot, which I haven’t fished for several months as I wasn’t catching, but I decided to give it another go and see what happened. The first thing I had to do was to clear fallen branches from the bank to make room to set up my gear and try not to tread on the clump of snowdrops that were growing, although they were past their best. The first rod in was the feeder and before I could get the float rod set up there were twitches on the tip but nothing there, I put it down to minnows and decided not to continue with it. Trotting the float down a fairly slow moving stream with some colour I soon had a bite, a minnow! Followed by another one and another one and so on. The best part of the morning was seeing a kingfisher zooming along the river in a bright blue flash.

Getting fed up with this I had a look round and saw that a fence which stopped you walking upstream had fallen down so I decided to go for a look. The first problem was a small stream which I had to cross. I reckoned that I could jump it and put one foot next to the bank only for it to sink in the mud nearly up to the top of my boot! After a short struggle I retrieved it and crossed a bit further up where it was firmer. Then I had to find my way through the undergrowth and follow the river. My club does have fishing rights here but it is clear that no-one ever goes there. I followed the river along and found a couple of places that looked promising but couldn’t get too close as I was conscious of the sun behind me causing my shadow to fall on the water. Then there was movement and a decent sized fish of about a foot shot from my side of the river to the other. A bit further along and there was a shoal of fish jumping around in their haste to get away from me. These fish seemed very shy and I wonder whether the fact that I saw a cormorant in the river a while back had made them nervous! Then I found a swim which I could fish, it had some grass instead of jungle and a nice deep pool to fish. I decided to pack up and return to try my luck here.

Getting back to my gear was a trial, I found a large fallen tree across the stream and crawled across it looking very undignified for my years! I had just begun to pack up when I got a text message from my wife saying that the bank had been calling about unauthorised activity on our account and could I come home. Fortunately I was only about ten minutes away from home and as I walked through the door she handed me her phone saying that it was the bank. The voice on the other end was very well spoken and explained that they had detected a suspicious payment to Harvey Nicks for £700 odd and had we authorised it? He then asked if we had internet banking and when I said that we had, asked us to log on and check whether we had been debited for any payments we hadn’t made. While I was doing this he said that he had to check with his manager and while the phone was quiet I asked my wife if she was sure that this was the bank and he overheard this and came back with several reasons why they were including that he had not asked for any details of our account.

He then said that as our account security had been compromised they would have to open a new account with level three security and said that we would have to transfer our money to the new account. It was then that I got really suspicious as I reckoned that the bank could do all that from their end if they wanted to. When he asked us to open the tab to make a payment I had had enough and told him that he was a dishonest person and hung up! Even then he phoned back a couple of times, needless to say we didn’t answer!

Next we phoned the bank to check that our account was secure and after waiting for ages and getting fed up with being told how important our call was to them (though not important enough to answer the phone!) we finally got through and had a chat with a very nice lady who assured us that they hadn’t phoned us and it was a scam. She cancelled my wife’s debit card, which funnily enough had been used to try and make a purchase at Harvey Nicks and assured us that our account was safe. She then put us through to their fraud department and while we were waiting we had lunch, and a cup of tea and thought that they must be dealing with a lot of fraud when finally someone answered. He gave his name as Vladimir which made us wonder whether our call has been re-routed to the Kremlin but by what he said it soon became clear that he knew more about banking than invading a neighbouring country so we relaxed. Basically he repeated what the first lady had said and asked us if we had given the scammer any information or loaded any apps onto our tablet then gave us some advice on how to stay safe online. A bit of a waste of time really but I suppose it will get recorded somewhere and help someone improve things.

By now it was mid-afternoon and rather late to go back to the river so I didn’t. I was hardly in the right frame of mind anyway as these scammers are very clever. They know that you are all emotionally wound up at the prospect of losing money and in my case got me just as I walked into the house before I had a chance to talk to the missus, so you are vulnerable and then they sound so plausible that you go along with what they say. In the cold light of day you may think that you would never fall for it but these people are very, very good at what they do!

Still, it wasn’t all bad, I found a new swim to fish, even if I will have to wait three months to fish it and my wife has to have a new debit card so she won’t be able to spend any money until the new one comes!  So, all’s well that ends well. Although I didn’t get to do much fishing our bank account was safe and no-one died. So that is it really, fishing lakes for the next three months including a new one that the club has just taken on so that is something to look forward to. Now, I think I had better just check the balance in our account!

Sorry, this was the best I could do!

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Saturday came with a bump after a manic working week. Agreed to meet Ricky at the car park near the station for 10. the journey up seemed quicker than usual, maybe where I haven’t been on a train for a bit everything feels quicker? Who knows? I arrived with blurry eyes but eager to see Ricky after such a long time (used to see him every other day when I worked in Crayford) 2 Americano’s in hand I stepped out of the station and towards the agreed car park. Looking down I suddenly realised my walking pattern means coffee all down my legs… “Great !” I thought, “is this going to be a sign of the day to come?”

Ricky arrived shortly after and to his amusement coffee wise we set off down into the town centre following the river out towards the Thames. This was our first spot a brackish bit of water which could be hiding some nice perch & pike. After flicking a jig head about for a while and Ricky ledgering with maggots it became clear that the fish weren’t there or at least wasn’t interested in what we were offering…

With Ricky being the local man in the know we headed back into town and through into a local parkland area that was recently cleaned up and cut back. It was busy with people milling about and enjoying the clear Saturday weather and we was told there’s nothing in here river wise. Undeterred we both changed up to light ledgering with 3/4 maggots on small 8 specimen hooks just wanting to grab a bite of something… please something! Ricky was in first pulling a beautiful chub out from under an overhanging bush, shortly followed by me with a smaller but still beautiful specimen. “Quids in!” We thought might have found a spot for a few hours but then after a greedy roach the swim died, no movement not even a sign, this winter fishing malarkey is a nightmare sometimes! We continued upstream hitting a few other spots but with no luck. 

We had walked past a nice deep curve in the river on the way up and spotted some bream cruising about on the far bank and decided to go back to see what was happening. Luckily they were still there glistening in the winter sunlight. With this boost in our confidence we cast out, setting a trap on both sides of the curve, stepping back from the bank and watched these fish swim past both our baits! Confused and a little windswept we re-cast just in front of their noses, maybe this time they will find our baits ? Still nothing …. maybe they just wasn’t turned on by the maggots? A classic winter bait but clearly the fish of Dartford had different ideas. Our hearts sinking a little at the sight of these fish cruising past us we began to think about calling it a day, maybe it just wasn’t our day but as I was reeling in I had a sudden pull ! Gently striking into it a large shape plopped to the surface! It was a beautiful river bream and a lot bigger than what we thought when we saw them !! Ricky was there in a flash with the net we were not going to let this one escape!  Bringing it onto the bank we were both over the moon! This was a fish to be proud of on such a tough day! A few photos later and this beautiful but moody bream was released back to its lair ready for another day.

With this cold but beautiful high we decided to call it a day, packing up and realising I was covered in mud and smelling like a fishmonger I sat on this Thameslink home feeling content but very aware that people could smell me.

Until next time, 

Ben 

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I planned a session for Wednesday this week as the forecast was for it to be very mild for the time of year. I wanted to surface fish for carp using my new £25 NGT stalker rod and reel. I had set it up at home with one of those long surface fishing floats but didn’t have a swivel small enough to fit into the recess at the front so just tied the line to the hook length. When I got to the site the car park was full so I had to be creative with my parking! I started to walk the bank where I could see rows of anglers and came across a tripod with a pair of scales on it. This gave me a clue and it was soon confirmed by one of the fishermen, it was a match! 

So, back into the car and away to a lake that I have driven by hundreds if not thousands of times. It was not far and I was soon there and could tell from the way the gate opened that it had not been fished recently. On with the wellies and time for a walk round. On one side there was a slope down to the water with some platforms. I walked the length of the lake and found that I had to retrace my steps as I couldn’t get round. None of the swims grabbed me, branches sticking out of the water, trees overhead and steep banks and when I got to the other side of the lake it was even worse! I had to walk along wooden duckboards, pallets and other odd pieces of wood to get to platforms in the swims only to find they were underwater! I decided to give this place a miss for the day and come back another time. 

By now it was getting on for lunchtime and as I would have to drive past my house to get to other places to fish I thought that I would pop home for lunch. After lunch I couldn’t be bothered to drag myself out again so I didn’t!

The next day was cooler, 10 degrees, but sunny and bright so I wrapped up warm and made my way to the lake again. This time there was no-one there and I was soon at my favourite swim, tucked down out of the wind. I decided to put some groundbait and surface feeder biscuits out and before I could even get the rods set up I could hear carp slurping. Looking round I spotted them and threw some biscuits in their direction. They quickly started sucking them up so I decided not to bother with my feeder rod or float rod and go straight to my new stalker rod. 

All shapes and colours, this one was very yellow!

I spent the rest of the day casting out to fish on the top and catching them, I caught 20 in total plus a couple that slipped the hook but they don’t count! I tried various tactics during the session including using a pop up boilie for bait from which I got very little interest, in fact the white float got more attention, far from putting the fish off they would swim up to it and give it a suck and nibble then swim right past the bait! At least the boilie stayed on the hair rig which is more than can be said for bread! The line got rather twisted so I reeled some of it off and replaced the float with another one which I picked up from the tackle shop on the way and this one did have a swivel, which seemed to help. I also went from a hair rig to a plain hook as they seemed to be shy of the hook and I also did my best to cover it up with the bait. I found white bread the best bait, it was easier to shape and stayed on the hook better than wholemeal and also seemed to attract the fish more. I noticed the same thing as before, a single fish would often ignore the bait but several together would compete for it and one would get hooked. Again, they were not worried about me playing a fish in the swim even when I put the landing net in the water!

This one was rounded in shape.

So, how about my £25 rod and reel? Well, I couldn’t be more pleased with it! The reel is smooth and the drag is even and can be gradually applied, unlike my spinning rod reel where the drag is either on or off. At 2lb test curve the rod is a bit stiff for these fish which ranged from a couple of pounds to six and a half and it would easily cope with larger fish. The rod did have a bit of a bend in it with the bigger fish and I will have no qualms about using it for larger fish on other lakes. £25 and it is a decent rod! What a bargain!

And the match from the day before? Well, the bailiff stopped by and told me that the winning weight was 23lbs with nine fish. I caught twenty and let’s underestimate and say that they weighed 3lb each, that makes 60lb! I would have smashed it! Perhaps I’ll give this match fishing lark a go!

Another video of carp feeding off the top just in front of me. Try turning your sound up!

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Having had some success on my last visit I decided to try the same lake again. I waited until it was a bit warmer and didn’t mind the wind as I knew that it would be sheltered as this water is down a steep bank. I arrived late morning with my feeder rod, float rod and a cheap spinning rod which I had set up with a bubble float and hair hook size 10 in case I could get carp to come on the surface again. After my last session I decided to buy a stalking rod and ordered an 8ft NGT rod with a 4000 baitrunner reel which was being sold as a set for £25 including delivery! I had looked at several reviews and they all were positive so I went for it. I had an email that it was being delivered on the day I was going fishing and a link to a map showing where the delivery van was. It got across the county to my town but then spent ages delivering to various places so I gave up and went fishing instead. You might have guessed it, just after I arrived and was setting up I had an email to say it had been delivered! Of course, if I had waited at home for it………

Anyway, back to the lake. There were half a dozen cars there when I arrived and I wondered if my swim would be free. Fortunately it was and I quickly settled down with the feeder rod with a small method feeder with corn as a bait and the float rod out. I had put some groundbait in and decided to start fishing shallow and deepen the rig if I wasn’t getting any bites. I also threw some bread and dog mixer biscuits out to see if the carp would arrive. Not much happened except that slowly people began leaving and I wondered if it was too late to catch anything but then remembered that the carp had not arrived until later last time so didn’t give up hope.

Then the float dipped and I had my first silverfish for a few months, a little roach. I took his picture then quickly popped him back in. I was using maggots on the float and soon changed to them on the feeder as I was having no joy with the corn. The float dipped again and it was another small roach then it went quiet so I decided to have lunch. Nothing through lunch but then another roach and a few minutes later the quiver tip bent and I was into a carp of a few pounds. Looking back at my photos I saw that this one was half an hour later than my first carp on the last session but it gave me hope! By now I was hearing the distinctive sound of carp slurping but couldn’t see where they were. I threw some more bread and biscuits in and waited patiently and eventually, about an hour and a half later than last time they started feeding on the surface and coming closer towards me, time to get the surface fishing gear out.

The first roach for a few months!

I had wondered if the bubble float would spook the fish but they didn’t seem to take any notice of it, in fact they would nose up to it and see if was something they could eat! The rest of the session was much the same as the last. I found that the spinning rod was a bit heavy for the size of fish I was catching, the heaviest went up to five and a half pounds. I also found that the fish were getting easier to catch as the session went on especially if there were two or three around the same piece of bread when they became a bit competitive. Single fish would sometimes nose up to the bait and ignore it so I wondered whether the hook was spooking it and so did my best to cover it up with bread. I was also surprised that the carp would still be feeding in the swim as I was playing and netting a fish, it didn’t seem to bother them at all. By now it was mid-afternoon and everyone had gone home, even the bailiff who had dropped by earlier and expressed surprise that I had caught some roach as they hadn’t been seen since the summer.

I was thinking of calling it a day when I had another fish and was playing it when the line went slack. It had broken just where it was attached to the bubble float and looking at it, it was quite sharp where it was riveted together and had obviously worn the line, into the bin for it then! I still had a few minutes to go so decided to put the float rod back into the water while I did a bit of tidying up to see if I could catch another roach but instead the float shot away and it was another carp, quite small but easily landed on my light tackle. Then it was time to go home and reflect on an afternoon where I had caught twelve fish and further boosted my catching confidence after a poor end to last year. I could get bored with fishing like this every time but for now it is just what I need!

I will leave you today with a video of the carp feeding off the surface making that lovely slurping noise!

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There is something exciting about going to a new water, a slight anxiety, “Will I be able to find it, is there somewhere to park, will I catch anything?” Then there is the anticipation of catching fish, because a new water holds out the promise of success and I haven’t blanked there yet made me really look forward to my trip. Then, of course there is the matter of not going fishing since before Christmas which made me look forward to the session even more.

The morning was fairly mild and the strong winds of the previous days had died down and there was a bit of brightness in the sky as I set off. It was getting on in the morning as I had my chores to do and it takes me a little while to get going theses days. I found it alright, thanks Google Maps and Streetview, and there was even somewhere to park next to a couple of other cars. The lake was long and thin and I saw an angler on the side nearest to the car park so strolled down to see him. In fact his friend was in the next swim and after chatting for a few minutes I found that neither of them had caught anything as they said they  were in the wrong place and they should have been a bit further back towards the car park. It being my first time and the lake not looking a lot different anywhere along its length I decided to take their advice and found a decent platform not far from the car and set up my gear. I had just brought my feeder and float rods as I wasn’t expecting to catch anything big and soon had the feeder rod out with a small hybrid feeder and a couple of maggots on the hook. Then I discovered one of the problems with fishing on a wooden platform, there was nowhere to put a rod rest so I ended up just lying my rod on its side. I was to hear more about that later!

I started getting the float rod ready when much to my surprise a carp of a few pounds swam right past my swim just a yard or two out! I carried on getting ready when I heard the distinctive slurp of a carp feeding off the surface. “Right,” I thought, “Let’s put some bread out and see if they come to it.” So I did, and a few minutes later it was being eaten by a couple of fish. These two must have called their mates as shortly after there were half a dozen fish slurping away. The float rod was set up and I cast it out near to the fish and they took no notice so I tossed a handful of maggots in and they ignored them while continuing to guzzle the bread, it was time for drastic action! I quickly took the float and split shot off the line and found the largest hook in my box, a size ten, and cast my bread upon the waters.

My first decent fish for a long time, a lovely mirror!

I have got to really like catching fish off the surface and managed quite a few over the last year but I didn’t think that I would be doing it at the beginning of February! My float rod has only got a light line on it but I know that it will deal with bigger fish if I take it gently from my experience last summer so I was confident I could land any fish in the water. The first couple of casts came to nothing with the bread coming off the hook as it was nosed by a fish but soon one had taken the hook and I was in! I took it gently and after a couple of minutes the fish was in the net and safely landed. A mirror carp, not too big, four or five pounds I guess but it was a fish and after my run of poor form I was elated! It was quickly returned but before I cast out again the quiver tip started twitching and I was soon into another fish, a common of about the same weight. Then came another on the bread before a voice behind me asked how I was getting on. It turned out to be the Bailiff but it was alright as I had a ticket so we chatted for a few minutes before he moved on but not before telling me to keep an eye on my feeder rod as the bites could be fierce and the rod would end up in the water!

After that the fishing was quite consistent, I caught another carp on the feeder and a total of five off the surface, the biggest fish weighed in at seven and a half pounds and I took a while to land it under the watchful eye of the Bailiff stood on the opposite bank. Soon the time was getting on and I decided to wrap up what had been my best day’s fishing for ages. During the day I had seen a kingfisher streak past and been visited by the obligatory robin and caught seven fish so I was well pleased with myself. As I was packing up the Bailiff stopped by again, he had been supervising a match on the other lake on the site where weights had been poor so I had chosen the right place to fish! As we were chatting the fish continued to suck up my bread and we counted eleven of them at one time.

On the way home I had plenty to think about, how well my 10ft Maver rod stood up to reasonable sized fish, how to keep the feeder rod from getting pulled off the platform and the surprise at getting carp feeding off the top in the first week of February. Later I had a look on the Internet at stalking rods and techniques for fishing off the surface. I like using bread but mine was a bit dry and crumbly and didn’t stay on the hook very well and I wonder if some brands are better than others. Also, whether or not to use a hair rig and why some fish would ignore the bait if it was on its own or if they were on their own. I seemed to get more bites when there were a few fish competing for the bread, maybe they had thrown caution to the winds and decided to go for it before their mates got there first! I used my proper carp rods for surface fishing before but maybe they are a bit heavy for the size of fish I was catching, perhaps a lighter stalking rod would be a good addition to my armoury, after all I saw on Facebook that February is, “Buy your husband a fishing rod month” so it must be true!

A nice Common of seven and a half pounds.

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