Tag Archives: vintage

End of Course Fishing Season 2017

I have been really fortunate this course fishing season being able to get out fishing as much as I have. The lakes have been good to me, so too has the river.

I had taken a few days off work prior to the 14th in order I could get some fishing in, just in case the river flooded and became un-fishable, which is common-place at this time of year.

Working in Wessex again, I only had a two and a half hour drive too the river. Packing my car to the gunnel’s on Saturday morning, I set off in good weather looking forward to catching a Roach on the river Stour, with four days to achieve this I was hopeful of landing at least one.

I was on the river by late afternoon, via a detour to a local tackle shop to purchase a pint of their finest ‘mixed’. The river was in good shape, but there was rain forecast for the Saturday evening, with no real indication of how much precipitation was to fall. This could easily scupper the fishing for the next few days, including the final day if a real heavy downpour was to occur.

I was joined by my friend who is the river bailiff for this stretch of the Stour. I setup at my favourite swim that I like to call ‘the beach’. I first mixed up some groundbait and fired it across the river towards a deepening channel on the far bank.

I set my vintage Aerial reel onto my Fred J. Taylor rod with a small cage feeder and cast out. It did not seem like one minute had passed when the top of the rod began bouncing around; I had my first fish! I could not believe it? A Roach on my very first cast. Very small, but a Roach non-the-less.

I caught Roach after Roach, and was having an absolute field-day. The wind made it impossible for float fishing and very difficult getting the feeder into the same position each time, but I was not bothered, I seemed to still be able to catch. My friend had moved swims and was now in a corner just downstream of me. He came running up to show me a huge Roach he had just landed, what a corker! Strangely we did not weigh it. This was gently returned, serenely swimming off as if nothing had happened. The day ended with thickening cloud and a threat of rain. During that night the rain fell. It fell so hard that it woke me up. That’s it, I thought, the river will be knackered now.

Arriving at the river on the Sunday, I was met with a total surprise, the river had actually fallen in height. Yes, it was very coloured, not ideal, but still totally fish-able. Once again I fished late afternoon and into evening and was treated to some nice Roach, and also a good soaking due to a cloud-burst or two. As darkness fell I latched into what I first thought was a huge Roach, but it did not have that noticeable ‘jagged’ fight. I then thought it may be a small Chub, as it seemed to be making its way towards every snag in the water that it knew. It was not until I managed to get it near the surface when it rolled to reveal I had hooked a huge Perch.  A Perch so big I have never seen before. I did not weigh it, but did take a couple of photos before I gently returned the splendid Sargent. I was kept company by a nearby Woodpecker hammering away randomly. I can only imagine that it had quite a headache by the end of the day. Great to hear a Woodpecker again, and I was also pleased to be accompanied by the Kingfishers which are always a delight to see.

Monday began with a call from the river bailiff to say that river fishing was over due to the river now had actually risen quite dramatically and was very coloured. Disappointed, but not put off, I went to the river in the afternoon. There were still lots of slow glides available to fish. Another friend joined us that afternoon and we all caught some lovely Roach, Dace and Gudgeon, even though the river was now far from perfect.

The 14th arrived, as did perfect weather. Cloudy and rather mild for this time of year. The river was still very coloured. I fished the same spot as yesterday, and watched the bailiffs’ brother land an absolutely huge Roach, without weighing it and nonchalantly returning it as if it was common-place to land such a big fish. I, on the other hand, was catching minnow after minnow after minnow. The odd Roach did grace the river bank, as did a small Chub and a couple of Dace along with the odd Gudgeon. A good friend brought along a superb fruit cake that was made for Christmas. It had obviously matured beyond Christmas and was very, very tasty indeed and was a welcome accompaniment with a mug of tea brewed from a Kelly kettle.

A number of other fishing friends joined us in the evening for a pint to celebrate the end of this cracking season.

The traditional course fishing season is over, I can look forward to planning my allotment, sowing vegetables for the coming year, and looking forward to June 16th with a dream of a Tench.

A Winter Roach

Working again in Wessex, I planned another fishing trip this Sunday to the River Stour.

The weather forecast for this weekend was certainly more favourable than the last; with better temperatures and no easterly wind. Although there were high winds and rain forecast, I did not let this put me off.

Sunday morning arrived.  as I peered out of my window and it was clear that the weathermen had done their job this week. It was grey, cold and raining, I’d better wrap up warm.

A friend of mine, (who is actually the bailiff for the stretch of the River Stour I intended to fish), telephoned in the morning to say that there was a competition match on the river . Ah no! I could not believe it. Unperturbed, he advised that there was a stretch further up river where the match-men would not be, and that we could go, and more importantly, the fishing there was really good. I advised that I would be parking up in the usual spot, assess the situation and would plan an attack from there. Travelling via the tackle shop again, I arrived and parked up. I was very pleased to note that there were actually only eight people fishing the match, so was confident that I still could fish the area I wanted, undisturbed.

Creel, slung on the shoulder, grabbed a flask of tea, along with the rods and began my trek across the fields. The first spot I wanted to fish was taken by a match angler. A little disappointed I continued on, I stumbled upon an area that I had actually forgot about. Almost like a beach, sloping slowly down to the waters edge, hard under foot, and gravelly. The only downside being that I was not out of the wind, which was actually blowing rather fiercely. I know that Roach love gravel areas, and at the other side of the river I knew there to be a deep channel where the river slows up, a classic Roach swim.

I had intended for fish with two rods today, one trotting a float down the swim, and the other on the river bed with a swimfeeder full of groundbait. At first I prepared some groundbait, mixing it with water from the river. I made quite a solid mix and threw three or four golf ball sized handful’s into the desired spot. Letting the swim develop and leaving the fish to hopefully enter the area, I began setting up my ledger rod. I put together a rod that I named the ‘little tinca‘. I had it made purely for Tench fishing but thought that it would have the power to hold a swimfeeder full of wet groundbait. Thankfully it did, and before too long I had cast into the swim. Using my new Aerial I had to be very careful as even with my cack-handed Wallis casts, I knew that I would hit the opposite bank. Instead opted for the ‘Nottingham Style‘ cast which employs paying off line from the reel and cast from there. Much easier to determine distance.

After some time I reeled in to re-bait and re-cast to find that I had indeed hooked a small Roach. It was so small that the rod tip did not indicate any bite. I re-cast, and this time saw the very slightest of bites, and again had hooked a very small Roach. With the swim like this I did not bother to set-up a second rod to float fish and stuck to ledger tactics. I did miss the sight of my quill float sailing nonchalantly through the swim. I can’t remember the last time I ever used ledger tactics? but it seemed to be working today. I did however change my rod to my Fred J Taylor, which, although is still strong, has a nice action tip so I could see more clearly bites when and if they arrived. I also realised that I had christened my new Aerial reel, and it had been done in style, with a winter Stour Roach.

My friend joined me some time later and he set-up round a bend in the river just downstream of myself. He had some huge Roach and said he hadn’t had a day like it in ages.

As dusk began to fall I lost two big Roach, one after the other. Half way across the river flow they simple fell off the hook. Of course I was disappointed. All I had caught all day were small Roach, but I really had no terms for complaint as I had lost count of the Roach I had caught and had a fantastic day. After reeling in a nice Dace it was evident I had a Pike, or a number of ‘Pike’s’ in my swim. That was one of the luckiest Dace around, as not fifteen feet from the bank, the river ‘erupted’ as a Pike made tracks for this Dace, narrowly missing it and spooking on the sight of me. I began to get hefty knocks on the rod tip and reeled in to find no fish. Sometimes, as I was reeling in a Pike was actually attacking my empty cage feeder.

Pike stopped play, and my friend also had Pike trouble. We called it a day, but what a day.

I look forward to getting to the river again for the last few days of this fishing season, and who knows what awaits? I only hope the river is in the same mood as she was today.

I must Be Mad!

I had promised myself another trip to the river this weekend.           Watching the weather a week before the trip, it did not appear encouraging. Easterly winds all week, and possible snow by the weekend. Thursday came and went, Friday came and went, and the forecast did not change, Sunday was going to be very cold and windy.

I awoke on Sunday morning to a leaden sky and the sound of the wind howling down the chimney. What am I doing, I thought? Only an idiot would go out fishing in this weather. The thing was that I had psyched myself up all week to go fishing on Sunday, no matter what, I was determined to go fishing, even if it was two degrees with a wind-chill factor of minus four!

Car packed, and with extra layers of clothing, extra jumpers and jackets. The moment I turned the key to start my car the snow began. Fortunately, it was very fine snow and did not trouble me.

I was looking forward to my two and a half hours Sunday drive to the river. On my journey, I could see the tops of the hills were pure white. Should I turn around, go back home, light the log burner and put the kettle on? Drinking tea all afternoon in front of the fire would be very appealing, but I had some fishing to do!

After a detour to a tackle shop to purchase some bait, I arrived near the river. Parked up, unloaded the rods, put on another jumper,  a jacket and made my way across the fields to my destination. I know of a stretch of river that is accessible down a small bank. Here I had hoped to be out of the wind. When I arrived I was very pleased to see that my intentions were correct, and indeed the wind was blowing over the top of the bank above my head. Down at river level I was actually quite comfortable.

I had brought along with me a new trotting reel, an ‘Adcock Stanton’ that I was keen to try out. Not a true ‘pin’, as it is assembled with ball bearings, but I was amazed at how well I could Wallis Cast with it, getting a little too close to branches on the opposite side of the river on more than one occasion.

I tried trotting a worm down the swim. I tried trotting a bunch of maggots down the swim. I even tried the deadliest of Roach baits ‘bread’, none were successful. It did enable me to try out this reel though, which I was very pleased about. I also enjoyed being by the river, despite the cold and the high winds.

I had brought along with me my new Aerial reel that I was also very keen to try out. My lake is about a half hour drive from the river, so after about two hours on the river, I packed up and made my way up to the lake where I would try for a winter lake roach, or even a winter Crucian.

Again, when I got too the lake there were plenty of swims where I could get out of the wind. The lake looked very different now that all the lily pads had died back.

The new Aerial looks very good on my Fred J Taylor Roach rod, even though it did not spin once today and my landing net remained bone dry.

On my way from the lake, I stopped by a local Inn and treat myself to a Sunday carvery. This warmed me up nicely. I drove home elated that I had made the effort , and was surprised that I had enjoyed the cold day so much.

A new Lease Of Life

It is always a risky business buying an item without seeing it “in-the-flesh”, first hand.

Fishing recently with a good friend, he showed me a new reel he had acquired, an Aerial 4.5 inch, and used it on the day to catch some cracking Roach on the River Stour.

I have always fancied one of these reels myself. Seeing one for sale online, I bid for it and made a purchase. Upon receipt, I was a little disappointed to be honest, as it wobbled like a granddad at a Christmas party. Non-the-less, I did get it for a good price. After cleaning the reel further, i found it spun well, and now gleams!. It still requires a bit of work to get rid of the wobble, and I can’t wait to try it out next time I get down to the river.

The previous owner very kindly sent me a series of historic pictures to show its development. The final picture shows what it is like now. Apparently, it is quite literally a barn find, and was found in Ireland. Skeletal-like, cobweb bound, It can be seen from the first photographs that it was found loaded with Salmon or Trout line. The previous owner has had it for a number of years and done a great job bringing it back from the dead. Now I own it, and a new chapter will begin, hopefully being used to catch a 3lb Crucian, or a 20lb Carp, or even a 4lb Tench; who knows? watch this space….

Winter Sunshine

Managed to get a break last weekend, and drove over to Wessex with a new rod and reel. The aim, to christen them with a winter Roach. The rod, A Fred J Taylor Roach Rod, has actually been christened already, but with a double figure mirror carp, so was keen to do it ‘properly’ with a Roach.

This winter was cool, a beautiful clear sky and full sun. Not perhaps, the best Roach fishing weather, but there were no complaints at all, it was great just to be fishing again, especially at a flowing river.

An old Rapidex was given to me by the bailiff of my local pond and deemed fit for the bin. After a little tlc, I managed to free the totally jammed reel, and following a good clean, got it to a state where it could actually be used again.

Sport was slow. A couple of friends joined me, the river bailiff being one, and we fished in the same spot; fruitless. Wandering across the river, and across a couple of fields, we found far better looking swims and settled down in earnest.

Trotting a large float down the river. No real bites or indicators were seen at all. Only my float would stop occasionally in mid flow. I would tighten the line as if it were caught on the river bed so that it would be on its way again. One time when I tightened I felt resistance, A fish! At last! I thought it was a big Roach lolling around in mid current, and then it made a few short runs which I knew to be a Chub. The river was so cold that the Chub did not really put up much of a fight and did not get near any snags, of which there were many. I had to be cautions,  I was using a very light hook link. A quick photograph and back to it’s cold home it went.

I moved swims, much further down the river, the sun warming hands and face. A couple of Roach and a Gudgeon were to be had. Nothing of any size, but at last I could say that the Fred J Taylor Roach Rod has now caught a Roach.

With the sun setting rapidly, I found my friends up stream, we marked the day with a delicious slice of blueberry cake. In quickly diminishing light we all packed up. Walking back across the fields sounded like a favorable breakfast cereal, as the grass was beginning to freeze under our footsteps, and we crunched our way back.

A Final Tench

I have been very fortunate this year; being able to get fishing so many times. I have also been very lucky when I have fished. Lucky with some glorious weather, lucky in what I have caught, and lucky in some of the company I have met along the way.

Fishing a favorite lake in Wessex, cloudy and cool, but sheltered on the bank of the lake in-amongst the trees. I fished my chosen swim, casting very close into the margins with my ‘secret’ bait.

Sport did not arrive immediately, the float simply quivered ever so slightly now and then. I would reel in to find I had been ‘had’, and my bait was gone. Obviously, there were Crucians’ in my swim, and very tentative they were too.  Again the quill float never dipped but quivered,  I gently raised the rod, not a strike as such and hooked a good Crucian. As I netted the specimen, I could hardly believe the size, the old vintage landing net creaked as I raised the fish to the bank. I never usually weigh any catches of mine but on this occasion I had to. The scales went to 2lb.12oz; blimey! After weighing the empty net it revealed that the Crucian was 2lb.4oz. What a fish to end the summer season on.

I could not believe it, A good friend of mine called me on my mobile, and whilst chatting, I had a ‘run’ on the right hand rod. I quickly excused myself, ‘I hung up on the good chap’ and tended to the rod. The run was a short one, I initially thought it was the final Tench I was so longing to catch. The run did not go far and I soon had netted what could only be described as a huge Rudd, certainly the biggest I had ever seen, or caught. Again I had to weight it. The Rudd turned out at 1lb 4oz, unreal! Soon after I caught a huge Roach as well.

I was blessed with catching many smaller Rudd all afternoon, but no final Tench graced my landing net this day.

At around 4pm I noticed a fish roll right next to my float. I waited for the bite excitedly; nothing emerged. I reeled in, re-baited and re-cast to the exact spot. I then saw a huge Crucian ‘porpoise’, ‘dolphin-like’ right over my swim. I have seen this behaviour in the Crucians’ larger relatives, the Common and Mirror Carp, and generally signifies them going heads down rummaging through the debris on the lake bed, swimming up and down to the bottom again, with a ‘take’ a certainty every time. However, not on this occasion. I took this as an omen to pack up and leave. No final Tench of the season. Goodbye and good to see you, hope to see you again next summer season, I believe they were saying.