The Third Age Angler Posts

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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As I have said before I am struggling a bit with finding something to write about as I haven’t been fishing much and when I have I haven’t caught much. if anything! Fortunately this week, Ben, one of my Facebook friends has come to the rescue with a short but evocative piece about looking forward to getting onto the bank in those balmy summer days.

Being out of the house early due to work is a blessing and a curse at the same time, but this winter has been different…

Every morning I arrive at the top of a large hill looking down into a valley which I have to walk through and get to the other side and as I work my way down the said valley I often see a variety of animals, birds and even sounds, but on the most misty of mornings I often think about how wonderful it would be to be kneeling on a damp river bank looking for signs of fish under a bridge or two…….

As I’m walking my mind wanders and I dream of images of an almost perfect day catching roach, chub and perch while listening to bird song. Admittedly I haven’t been on the bank much this year what with pandemic stuff and working in education, but who says you can’t spend mornings dreaming of times and possibilities?  If only, if only……

2022 brings a new year and new opportunities and this is the year I’m going to have a good go at getting out once a week. All fishing is good to me, I just need the sound of the water to transport me away……

Till next time,

Ben

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It is January 1st and I had planned to go fishing this morning as we are in a spell of mild weather and I hoped the fish were biting. However, I woke up after nine this morning feeling quite rough and no, it wasn’t the result of imbibing too much for the New Year Festivities but this sinusitis I have developed and by the time I was feeling half decent again the day was nearly gone so I decided to give it a miss.

So, what to write for the blog? Well, it is that time of year when people look back on the last year and forward to the next so I thought that I would do the same. I have now been fishing again for eighteen months at a number of different waters and have gained some experience  but am a long way from being an expert or even good at it. In fact I seem to be getting worse! Since the Autumn my catch rate has really dropped off and I haven’t caught much at all. Whether this is because of the conditions, weather, overfishing or something else, I don’t know. I am using the same methods and going to the same places that I went last year when I was having some luck but recently I have been blanking more often than not. When I first started fishing again I was impatient to catch a fish but have learnt that blanking is part of fishing and have become more accepting of it. The important thing is that next time I go out I am going to catch something and make it all worthwhile!

There were some high points of the year, landing a decent carp on my float rod with a single red maggot and size 16 hook was one of them, I thought that I was going to lose it every second until it was in the net and I still could hardly believe it. Neither could the young man who came round from the other side of the lake from where he had been watching me to see what I had caught! Another highlight and a first was catching carp on the surface using a bubble float and bread. Seeing the fish cruising towards the bait and then taking it is exciting and completely different from watching a float or quiver tip. Working with the club to open up a water which is just across the road from me has been a positive and although I blanked when I fished there a few weeks ago I think that I will do much better in the summer when the weed has been raked out and the water is more accessible. I am looking forward to going fishing whenever I have an hour or so and walking out of my house with my gear all set up and being on the bank in less than five minutes.

There have been some good moments that have not just been about fishing but being in the countryside. It is always great to see a kingfisher flash past and hearing buzzards calling to each other overhead was amazing. I don’t mind seeing a heron standing in the margins but am a lot less enthusiastic about cormorants! Then there are the sounds or sometimes the lack of them. Like many people I live where there is a background of traffic noise and am surprised how it can be heard even in the remotest places where I fish. Of course it depends on the wind direction and sometimes it is very quiet and I don’t hear anything but natural sounds or see anyone all day, it is good to get away from it all! Other sounds that I hear regularly are the children playing during their lunch break at a primary school, dogs barking in a kennels, they maybe even the local hunt as they send a shiver up my spine when I hear them, they sound like the baying of hounds after their prey which you see in all kinds of films!

So, what about the future? A good question and one that I haven’t got much of an answer for. Over the last eighteen months I have tried out different methods and bought all the gear that I need. Yes, I know that there is always something else to buy but I am trying to resist the temptation! I haven’t been grabbed by any one type of fishing. I like catching carp but don’t like waiting for a bite, I still like watching a float and I have got into using a quiver tip a bit more. I like it all really but not any one thing in particular that I want to specialise in so will keep on with ether a carp rod or feeder rod and a float rod out. One thing that I have made my mind up on though, you could call it my New Year’s Resolution, is not to keep going back to places where I have blanked recently just because they have fished well in the past! It may be that I will be successful there in the future but for now there are plenty of places that I haven’t fished yet and who knows, I might break some PB’s!

Anyway, that is it for my blog for 2021, I have enjoyed writing it and I hope that you have enjoyed reading it and will continue to follow me on my angling journey in 2022. Don’t forget if anyone wants to contribute to the blog as a guest writer then get in touch with me via the contact form. In the meantime have a Happy New Year and tight lines for 2022!

You can’t see the reflections in my head so I thought I would include a photo of some reflections in the river!

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Those of you who read my blog regularly may have noticed that I have not been catching much recently. Yes, I know that it is winter and fishing slows down but I am getting a bit dispirited. I had a look back at my diary to see what I was catching this time last year and saw that I was going to the river quite often and managing to catch roach, dace, perch and chub. This year all I seem to manage is minnows!

Anyway, I had a couple of sessions this week. Firstly I went to one of the club lakes which usually fishes well and where I have caught before. I decided to leave my carp rods at home and take the float rod and feeder rod. It was later than I wanted by the time that I got to the water as just as I was leaving home the missus decided that she wanted the Christmas tree and decorations out of the attic. In the spirit of marital harmony I decided that I had better go up there and find them, at least it would give her something to do while I was gone! I arrived to find several cars in the car park and another angler just arriving. We had a chat and like me, he was after silvers, we walked around the lake together and chose swims near to each other facing the wind. It was the second of two milder days so we were both hopeful that the fish would be feeding. 

I keep my tackle box in the top of my rucksack and undid it to take out something and didn’t fasten it up properly or zip the top up again. Next I lifted the top compartment up to get to stuff underneath and my tackle box deposited its contents on the floor, I have to admit that there were a few choice words said as I scrabbled around in the mud picking up floats, weights, feeders etc. I was particularly annoyed with myself as this is the second time I have done that recently, who says that we live and learn?

I fed the swim lightly with some groundbait and a sprinkling of maggots, I got the feeder rod in next to some reeds and the float rod in the middle of the swim and waited. When I brought the feeder rod in to refill it, it had caught on something but this time I was lucky and it came free. The hook had opened a bit but a quick pinch with the pliers got it back into shape. I cast out to a different place! Although it was a milder day it was still a bit dull and wintery and I kept myself busy by changing the depth of the float and refilling the feeder trying to find the fish.

Time passed, I hadn’t had a bite, not a twitch, nothing. Soon it was time for elevenses and I got my flask out and a packet of crisps. Sods Law says that a cup of tea in one hand and an open packet of crisps in the other is the time I will get a bite but it didn’t happen. Soon it was lunchtime and I had been here several hours without a sign of a fish. I was just pondering what to do, whether to do what I had done in previous sessions and to move somewhere else when the angler that I had chatted to before came over for a chat. He hadn’t caught anything either but was optimistic that the fish would start biting later in the day. On the strength of that I decided to stay and persevere. This turned out not to be a good idea as despite trying everything I didn’t get a bite all day! It was about three o’ clock when my eyes were beginning to close that I decided to pack up and go home. On the way back to the car I passed my fellow angler who hadn’t caught anything either. When I got home I found that I hadn’t got all the decorations out of the attic so when I had unloaded the car I had to go back up in the attic again!

So, another blank. Funnily enough I didn’t feel too bad about it, perhaps I am getting used to it! It was a quiet day though, no ducks visited me neither did a robin and I didn’t see many birds at all. There were very few sounds, a bit of traffic in the lane and the faint sound of children out to play in the nearby primary school but overall not much to see or hear. No wonder I was beginning to fall asleep, perhaps I should treat myself to a reclining chair for Christmas so that I can catch up on my sleep while I am not catching fish!

This was as exciting as it got on my river session!

My next session was a couple of days after and I went back to the river. It had rained a bit and the water level had risen but was beginning to go down again so I thought that now was the time to go. I took my usual set up of float and feeder rod and the river was indeed higher and had a bit of colour but was not flowing as quickly as I expected. To cut a long story short I caught some minnows and a small silver fish and after a couple of hours I went home for lunch. There was a bit more non-fishing interest as there is a footpath nearby and walkers regularly pass by. This morning I think it was the W.I. as there was a large group of women chatting amongst themselves. A pair of swans came down the river and there was a terrific splash from under the bridge, the sort of sound a jumping carp makes and I could see the ripples but not what caused them. In the distance there was the sound of barking dogs which must be coming from a kennels although they do sound more like a load of foxhounds on the chase rather than a bunch of pets. I have to say that I am a bit disappointed by this swim where I was catching some nice fish last winter, perhaps it was just beginner’s luck!

Not quite sure what it is, a dace perhaps, but better than nothing!

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This is the story of a club water that holds fond memories for some members but which had fallen into neglect in recent years. It probably started life as a gravel pit many years ago and you had to walk across fields to get there. Modern development has caught up with it and it is now next to a main road and a housing estate and is smaller than it was. Luckily for me I live on the estate nearby and can walk there in three minutes! I have driven by many, many times and would always take a quick glance to see if I could see the heron and sometimes a lone angler. When I started fishing again I found that the water belonged to the club that I had joined so thought that I would give it a try. First I went on a reconnaissance, getting to the water was not easy, brambles had grown across the path, trees and bushes had grown wild and ivy covered everything. Eventually I found my way to the bank and the one and only accessible swim and looked into the water, it was full of weed and absolutely unfishable.

How it was!

Time passed and I fished elsewhere, on the club’s Facebook page they were talking about improving the water but although there were plans nothing much was happening. I took the occasional walk over to the water through the winter keeping my eye on the weed and saw that it died down as the weather got colder so come December I thought that I would give it a go. The session proved disappointing, the feeder rod was no good as the feeder just sank into the weed which was still on the bottom and I caught nothing on the float rod. I kept an eye on the lake and decided to give it another go in the Spring. At the end of April the weather was warming up and the weed didn’t look like it had grown much so I decided that it was time. Before fishing I decided to give it a rake and as I didn’t have a proper swim rake I took the garden rake with a bit of rope tied to it. This worked well enough and loads of weed came out and I had soon cleared a space to fish.

This time I was more successful, fishing the float rod and light tackle I caught fourteen fish, tench, carp and rudd, all small but great fun and I had proved that there were fish in there! A few days later I went again in the evening only to find that the swim was occupied! The club’s Facebook page discussions had clearly created some interest but after chatting to the angler for a while he invited me to share the swim with him and we both proceeded to catch a variety of fish, nothing very big though. It was nice to have a fishing companion and we had a very pleasant evening chatting and catching.

A Brown Goldfish
A nice little tench
A Pretty Little Mirror

I went a couple of time more before the weed grew too bad and then moved on to other venues. I caught some pretty fish but nothing of any size, they all seemed quite stunted and I could see the attraction of the water to the heron! Then, a few weeks ago there was discussion on Facebook, the club was having working parties to clear the banks and put in a path so I went over on a couple of afternoons and spent my time pulling away branches which the guy with the chainsaw was cutting. When we had cleared the undergrowth a bit they brought in a machine to create a proper path, which although it is muddy at the moment will be covered with bark or gravel to give it a proper surface. The digger cleared the banks and the weed from close in and the whole place looked much better. It was amazing the difference that a few guys with the right equipment could make in such a short time and I couldn’t wait to fish it again! I did wait a few days though as I ordered a proper swim rake and had to wait for it to be delivered.

Come the day when I had a couple of hours I set off full of excitement, I raked the swim although there was not as much weed as before, set up the float rod to a shallow depth and put a single red maggot on the hook. The float was gliding along the surface with the wind so I gradually increased the depth until the hook caught on the weed then lessened the depth until I was fishing just above the weed. I fished for an hour and a half without so much as a twitch on the float and then packed up and went home for lunch. I was disappointed but not unhappy, after all it is December and looking back at my records I blanked the last time I went in December only to catch in the spring so I will have to be patient. The club has plans to clear the weed and manage the fishery in the future so we are only at the start of a new era with that water and I am looking forward to spending many happy hours there in the future.

How it is now

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Looking at the forecast I decided to have a session on the first milder day. It hadn’t been frosty overnight and there was a bit of a breeze so it was a better day to go fishing. I decided to return to my spot on the river where I usually catch something and sorted out my gear so that I wouldn’t need the barrow and could carry what I needed. When I got to the car park there was someone there and I found him looking at the river. After a chat he made his way downstream while I settled down in my usual place. I threw in a bit of ground bait and a few maggots then put the feeder rod out near the bank where I have hooked a couple of perch before and then tried trotting with the float rod. Bait was red and white maggots which had lasted from my last session, it is surprising how long they can survive in my shed when it is cold.

The river was flowing slower than I have seen it before and although there was a bit of colour it was not very deep. I soon got into the swing of gently casting out and allowing the float to drift and refilling the feeder every few minutes. I tried a bit nearer the bank and the float bobbed and I was into a fish, yes, you might have guessed it, a minnow! This spot is renowned for them except when they are not there! Time passed without much action, I caught a couple more minnows but not a bite on the quiver tip. I always have this thing after a couple of hours without catching, should I be patient and persevere or move on and try and find fish elsewhere? On this occasion I decided to move and soon had everything packed away. I wanted to see if I could fit my 10ft rods in the car without breaking them down and was delighted to find that if I rested them on the dashboard they would just fit.

You have to understand how big my hands are to realise how big this minnow was!

So, where to go now? I could walk the river and try there or go to one of the still waters. I didn’t feel that energetic so decided to go back to what used to be my “go to” lake where I could park near a swim and soon be fishing again. When I arrived there was no-one else there and I had a quick walk round to find a good swim. The wind was blowing across the lake towards me and kicking up a bit of a chop which would make float fishing tricky so I walked round a little way and found a quieter swim which also had the advantage of being a bit more sheltered from the wind for me too! It was still on the windward side of the lake so I figured that I was doing things right. I tossed a bit of groundbait in and a few maggots and got both rods out then settled down to eat my lunch. It was quite pleasant where I was and I was enjoying being on the bank, all I needed was a fish. Alas, it was not to be! I spent the afternoon looking at an unmoving float and quiver tip. I tried different depths on the float and put the feeder in different places looking for the fish but they were not at home. 

I had a few visits from the swans, which had come back for the winter and had a go at pecking my float, and a flock of blue tits landed in the bush next to me. A cormorant flew over several times but that was about it, no robins to keep me busy feeding them and the ducks kept away as well. As it was getting dark I packed up and went home, disappointed that I hadn’t caught more than minnows but nevertheless having enjoyed the day. I decided that not fishing my “go to” lake recently had been a good call and I won’t be back for a while!

Post Script

That evening I was looking at the club’s Facebook page and noticed the result of a match on the river nearby. Thirteen anglers fished for a total of fifteen ounces! Yes, that is not a typo, fifteen ounces. Most of them blanked and the winning weight was five ounces. I would have placed with my three minnows! Then there was a comment that three of the club waters had not produced today, to which I added a fourth. So, it is not just me then, that’s a bit of a relief as I was beginning to doubt myself! I don’t know whether it is the cold, the time of year or whether the cormorant has eaten all the fish but it seems like catching is really hard in our neck of the woods at the moment. Still, that means that it can only get better!

Although it was milder it was still a bit bleak!

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After finally getting back on the bank for a short session I was able to plan for an all day one. All day at this time of the year is not that long as we only have about eight hours of daylight so it is important that I get out of bed early, which is something that I am not very good at these days. It also takes me a while to load up the car as I have to bring everything from the shed in the back garden round the side of the house to the car. I had thought of loading up the night before but as my car stands on the front drive I think this would be tempting fate. A few years ago I left my car open overnight and someone got in and stole my car park change and a few bits and pieces including a Swiss Army knife which I had for a long time and which was of sentimental value so I am not going to give them the chance again.

I did make my sandwiches the night before and did my best to get up early but it was still after nine by the time I got to the water. I chose to go to a lake that I have fished a few times before and which has been fishing well this year. It is one of the furthest waters and there is a decent walk along a rough path to get there so I have to be in the mood to manage that. There was no one else there when I arrived and I settled down in a swim that I fancied earlier. There was about 15 yards to an island and despite the water being high there was enough bank for me to lay out all my tackle. I put some still water groundbait in for silver fish and got my carp rod set up. The usual method feeder and boilie bait was cast out then the feeder rod with the swing tip. It was a decent enough morning with patchy cloud and a gentle breeze. Autumn in my part of the world has been late in coming this year but it had finally arrived with lots of leaves off the trees. 

It’s looking a bit like winter now – beautiful though!

This trip began to resemble my other sessions, I waited, waited a bit more, fed the swim with some maggots and some more groundbait, tossed a few maggots in, changed the area for my carp rod but nothing. Not a bite, not a knock, not a beep on the alarm, not a swing on the tip, nothing. The few sessions that I have had in the last few months have all seemed to start this way so I decided to give it a bit longer with the idea that If nothing was happening I would move. I had in mind that in winter fishing you have to work harder to find the fish and not just expect them to come to you. Nothing happened so I did move, round the corner of the lake where I had fished before with some success. I decided to fish the float rod as well as the carp rod and settled down again and waited, nothing. Nothing for about thirty minutes then the float bobbed and I was into a fish, nothing exciting it was a rudd and not that big either but at least it was a fish and saved a blank!

He was typical of the rudd that I was catching.

It was clear that the rudd had moved in to the swim as I was getting a fish a cast, those tell tale rudd bites where the float goes sideways rather than straight under but nothing very big. I wasn’t getting anything on the carp rod so decided to pull it in and put out the feeder rod in the swim with the hope of attracting bigger rudd. I also changed to sweet corn as bait in the hope that it would attract bigger fish. It didn’t and although I caught some they were all about hand sized. And so the afternoon wore on, if I was a match fisherman I would have been delighted with the way that the weight was piling up but it did seem to me that I was back to square one, catching little fish. Soon it was getting dusk and time to go so I packed up and went. 

So, no carp again, no big fish again, in fact no fish of any size at all. What had started out with great expectations ended up with me being slightly disgruntled. Also, Mother Nature had let me down as well, no kingfisher, no heron, no buzzards in fact only a few ducks sheltering under some overhanging branches and no passing walkers asking me how I was getting on, in fact no-one at all. Still, I suppose there is always the next time to look forward to!

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It had been nearly three weeks since I had last been fishing and I had just taken my wife to yet another appointment when I asked her what I should do for the rest of the day. “Why don’t you go fishing? You haven’t been for a while and it is a nice day.” Well, you don’t turn down a suggestion like that and she was right about the weather. After days of grey cloud the sun was showing through and making me feel more cheerful so it was a quick trip to the local tackle shop for some maggots, a bite to eat and I was off!

Where to go? I thought I wouldn’t go far as I didn’t have many hours of daylight left and ended up at a lake about a mile away from home. I have been there a couple of times before and had some luck so was looking forward to it. When I arrived there were only a couple of cars in the car park and on my way to my swim I passed a guy who was playing a fish. I stopped to chat, as you do, and he said that he had had a few in the couple of hours he had been there and shortly after landed a nice looking common of about ten pounds. I thought that it was a bit of a coincidence as before when I was at this venue on the smaller lake I stopped and chatted to a young man who was playing a carp but I didn’t do so well with just a perch and a roach. Thinking that at least the fish were biting I carried on to my swim and set up my usual carp rod and decided to have a go with the float rod for silvers. It was then that I found that I had left the bag with my maggots, flask, snacks etc in the car so it was a walk back to collect them.

I soon had the float rod out and found that I had a problem. There were lots of leaves floating on the surface and being a calm day there was the reflection of the trees on the opposite bank, both of which combined made it almost impossible to see the float! Back to the feeder rod which was still set up with the swing tip then it was time to sit down and relax and reel in the fish! That was the plan but the fish didn’t seem to have read the script and nothing seemed to be happening and that’s how it was on both rods. The carp rod was stubbornly quiet with only one beep on the buzzer and the swing tip remained still. Then the swing tip swung and I was into a fish which turned out to be a small perch but at least I had not blanked! 

I don’t know who was the more startled, me or him! Actually from his expression I think it was him!

Time passed, I had a cuppa, continued to cast out my feeders and enjoyed being on the bank in the sunshine. Then I started getting movement on my swing tip, it would slowly lift then fall back again and do this a few times but not develop into a take. I didn’t know what to make of this so left it for a while then got a more positive bite which turned out to be a roach. I was hoping to catch more members of its family but it was not to be, the swing tip would slowly rise then fall back and if I struck I didn’t connect with anything. I didn’t think that it was a line bite as these seem to be much quicker and something was definitely sucking my maggots! Then the other angler walked up to see me. He was packing up and wanted to know how I had been getting on. He hadn’t caught any more fish and was going home before dark and I told him that I would wait a bit in case the fish started to feed as dusk came on.

You can see that I was loading the method feeder when I caught this one!

I kept getting those timid bites and eventually struck and felt a fish. It shot off sideways and I could tell that it was some size then the hook pulled and the line went slack. I said, “Oh dear, oh dear!” or something similar then cast out again. I had a few more of those gentle bites but didn’t hook into any of them and eventually decided that it was getting too dark to see properly and packed up. I used my head torch for the first time and was pleased with how good it was and how much easier it made things as I didn’t have to hold it and it would shine in the direction that I was looking. So, a perch and roach again after seeing an angler playing a fish while I was on my way to a swim, next time that happens I think I will just turn around and go home!

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