All posts by Stephen Cullen

This Blog is a record of my love of the countryside, all things in it, especially old tractors, growing good food, drinking good tea and taking time out to enjoy life.

Surface Fishing

It has been well over two years since I tried to catch a Carp from the surface of any water. I know this as it was the last time that I used this reel. A K. Dowling & Sons centre pin. Not a collectors piece by any means, but it was the first pin that I bought and I use it exclusively for surface fishing for Carp.

The lake I was fishing is the lake that I fished years ago. I had been looking forward to another trip there for some time. It was a good forty minutes drive from where I was staying in Wessex. I imagined that there would be a few fishermen there as it was a weekend and I was not wrong.  Most had not caught a thing blaming the cold weather the previous days, and the odd frost that they had in this area.  In the afternoon sunshine a couple of fisherman were trying their luck for a carp on the surface and had not yet had a bite when I arrived. It was not long before one of them tempted a good carp on bread. I, on the other hand had brought dog buscuit. A bait that I had struggled to get as it seems to be really hard to obtain. However, a trip to a local pet store armed me with fishmeal and potato flavoured dog buscuit – surely I could not fail on this.

It took quite a while to tempt fish to begin feeding on the surface. It was great fun watching fish come up to my bait and back off at the last second only to be overcome with greed until one finally took the bait. The reel screamed into life but the fish gave up really quickly. I was sure that I had foul-hooked it but when I got the net under it I had not surprisingly. I got a shock when I lifted the fish onto the unhooking mat as I could not believe how heavy it was, easily over 15lb. The cold must have semi-comatose’d it.

I lost many more during this fishing session and with the nights getting shorlter I had to pack up before I knew it.

Never Fish Off-Rota

It was the last day of my trip and I  never look forward to the long journey home. The issue is that my route takes me very near to this pond, and I always tell myself that I will just fish an hour or two and then get back on the road home. This invariably never happens and I stay at the ponds far longer than intended. Today was no exception.

I had contacted a few of the members to see if it was ok to fish on their day and was very pleased to get a reply to say yes, there was no issue.

I checked out of my hotel and made my way to the tackle shop in order to purchase some fresh bait. When I arrived, no sooner had I opened the car door it began to rain, and by the time I walked the short distance to the tackle shop it was pouring down, accompanied by a deep rumble of thunder. I must be mad going fishing in this!Non-the-less, bait tubs full, I made my way to the ponds. The tops of the trees billowing over, and the wind was just getting stronger and stronger developing into a gale. No sane person would choose to go fishing in this weather, I was on my way home so had nothing to lose by giving it a go.

Remarkably the swim I was to fish was out of the wind. This pond is surrounded by trees which not only gives protection from the wind, but  are great for sheltering under in light showers. The wind was ridiculously strong by now.  Another issue was falling Kelly kindling (branches) which were a close encounter on more than one occasion, but came in very handy during the day for my tea making.

I did the same as yesterday by raking the swim a couple of times and only brought in light weed, baited it, and retired to put the Wizard together.

I was soon fishing and once more could hear distant rumbles of thunder and temporarily, I remained dry. How long could my luck last? Not long as it happened.

I caught a lovely palm-sized Crucian. The swim from time to time was cluttered with bubbles, so I was praying again to catch one of the fabulous Tench that reside here.

Fishing was quite slow, but very enjoyable.  Concentrating on my inactive float for so long then turning to attend to a boiling Kelly the split second my reel screamed into life. By the time I had put the kettle down and got my hand on the rod, the fish was well into the weed and there was no way back from there, loosing a float also in the disaster. If you are ever short of a bite, make tea! It’s amazing how many times stopping concentrating on a float actually gets you a bite. Obviously I had lost a Tench.

I missed a couple of lovely lift bites too, probably Tench although I have known Roach to feed in this manner also. I missed some proper thumping bites with the float shooting under, today was not going well.

Another cracking bite saw the float zip under, I lifted the rod and was into either a really good Crucian, or a Tench. The fish dived down into the lilles, my line kissed the stem of one of the lilles and gave way as if it had been cut by a razor blade; I could not believe it!

It was not long before my luck with the weather ended and the rain came in earnest. For the first shower I was quite comfortable sheltering under the boughs of the tress. When it stopped, I retrieved my brolly from the car in case of a big storm. The brolly came in very handy as the heavy rain did come, but I didn’t get any thunder surprisingly.

The last straw was another thumping bite, the float shot under and down towards the lillies, I struck into it, but the line between my reel and first eye on the rod had caught around a branch on the ground, the float shot out of the water and wrapped itself many times around the top of my rod – the air was blue!!! It was an impossible tangle. I had no option but to cut it off. This marked my time to head for home, the lake gods were telling me to go.

Tripping over the chain on my Kelly while packing up which was full of hot water and scalding myself in the process, gave even more proof that you should never-ever go fishing off-rota.

 

An Epic Day

This particular pond that I fish is expertly and gently managed, the few members are allocated to fish either on an even number, or an odd number day. Yesterday, I was fishing out of sync, and although I was kindly granted permission by another member to fish on his day, I believe that the lake gods frowned upon me.

Today I will be fishing on-rota. Again, I had my Wallis Wizard with me along with a little Aerial reel. Today however, I raked the swim before I fished. I could only assume that yesterday some of the weed had drifted in and my bait simply was not on the lake bed. It was frustrating as anything as there were clouds of Tench bubbles very near to my float but it never went under. Today would be different I hoped.

Like yesterday, thunder storms rumbled away in the distance, would I be lucky again and avoid the rain?

I hauled the rake four or five times and created a little clear strip near to a bed of lillies, I baited it with corn and then retired to put my rod together. By the time I had returned to the swim it was evident that all the noise and commotion of dragging a rake had not put the fish off one little bit and there were immediate signs of feeding fish.

There was no-one else at the ponds today so I had them all to myself and was very content, firing up the old Kelly now and again for cups of tea.

I was correct. Not only were the gods angry yesterday, but this swim must have been a bit choked with weed. The first fish I caught was a lovely palm-sized Crucian, great to see. I managed to catch a couple of good crucians that I was sure were Tench when I first hooked them, great scrap. Crucians are not meant to fight like that. I then managed to find my quarry and it fought hard. I gave it everything the Wizard had and managed to land a lovely three-pounder.

Once again, I stayed until the bats arrived and was really lucky all day not to get wet from any of the surrounding thunder storms.

Here again

Today saw yet another last minute trip to the Ponds. I had left my house later than anticipated at 04:20 and arrived to meet another member and good friend around lunchtime. I was only six minutes late. We had a spot of lunch – thanks very much!, and we were at the ponds late afternoon. My friend allowed me to settle in ‘the’ swim, a swim that I have never actually fished at this pond.  I have always favoured the more open swims that are available as it is far easier to control a Tench in these which is always my main quarry when I fish here.

I had brought one of my favourite rods, a Wallis Wizard that I have not used in a very long time and almost forgot that I had one in the collection; perfect for small Tench and Crucians. A little 3.5 inch Ariel from between 1920-1925 that I had refurbished made up the tackle for the trip.

We both settled into our swims quickly and began to fish; it was great to be back again. The manager turned up and fished the next swim down. Both my friend and I remained fish-less as the manager hauled fish after fish. (I actually heard him chuckling). That’s fishing I guess!

I drowned myself in mug after mug of tea, and managed to blank in ‘the’ swim. My friend caught a fine little Tench in the evening which was a lovely end to the day.

It’s Still Red Hot

The temperatures are still way-up there, fishing is not so good in hot weather, but I could not resist another crack at a summer Tench and the possibility of a Crucian.

I fished until the bats arrived at the pond, and although I missed many takes, and didn’t manage to catch my quarry of a Tench, I managed to land a few lovely Crucian’s, accompanied by many cups of tea from the old battered Kelly.

A Glastonbury Year

Another red hot day in Wessex saw me at another of my favourite ponds. I knew that it would be hard to catch anything in this heat but still wanted to be at the water to enjoy the setting here. It is a bit of a tradition for me now to be fishing somewhere on midsummer day.

Like Glastonbury this year, I kind of knew the fishing was just not going to happen, but enjoyed the blazing sunshine.

I might have only caught a tan here today, however I still enjoyed the fishing.