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End Of Season

As per usual, I was anticipating fishing for Roach on one of my favourite rivers in Wessex on the last day of this course fishing season.

As the date approached I, along with others, watched the weather forecast for the days approaching the 14th; It was not good news. The bailiff had been on the phone the previous week to say that the river was in the fields. Desperate news, but this particular river falls very, very quickly, so I was not too disappointed at the time.

I drove down on the Monday and arrived late in the day. Tuesday brought ‘biblical’ rain; this did not look promising for Thursday the 14th. The rain stopped around 15:00 on the Tuesday and I ventured forth to see what the river was like. I was amazed that, yes it was flowing very quickly, and really was too coloured to fish well, but it had not risen into the fields, so I had a couple of hours fishing on the river bank.

However, Wednesday morning brought grave news from the bailiff that the river had risen overnight and was now in the fields again. Along with gale-force winds, fishing here would be impossible today. I am lucky to be a member of a couple of nice ponds in Wessex, and one in particular I know to be tree-lined, and was sure to be able to get out of the wind somewhere along its banks and cast a line.

I found a lovely sheltered spot close to trees that were part submerged in the water. The perfect hiding hole for big Roach and unsuspecting Carp. The sun made an appearance, and once the Kelly kettle had been fired up, I was very comfortable, content and warm. I caught some lovely Roach, the biggest was definitely the very first fish I hooked, but as it rolled on the surface it threw the hook. I went on to catch 20+ Roach but no Carp today. Tomorrow, the 14th, would definitely be spent on a pond somewhere.

After many emails sent and received, it was to be spent with a few friends on a commercial pond. I had fished this pond a few times in the past years and looked forward to connecting with one of its resident big Perch.

I arrived at 12:00 on the dot after travelling down some very narrow lanes and through a ford that was full of water, breaking one of the cars fog lights in the process! Damn sat-nav, I will throw it out of the window one day. I hadn’t realised but a couple of guys had arrived before me and were already fishing, and infact catching too. After a brief chat with the guys I hastily setup the rod and made my way to one of the few calm parts of one of the ponds there – it looked very perchy! Not long after I had setup the rain arrived. It wasn’t bad at first and I thought that it might blow-over, but it didn’t, it just got heavier and heavier. It was no good, I would have to retreat to the car to fetch my brolly. As I walked back to my pitch, two other friends arrived and sensibly stayed in their car while the worst of the rain passed over.

Everyone had a good fishing day, no monsters were caught and the best part was meeting with friends again and feasting on home made pork pie, cake and of course tea! A great end to this course fishing season. I now look forward to spring, hearing the first Blackbird song and of course the opening of the new season where I look forward to fishing for Tench once more.

Christening Bob

I was kindly gifted a new ‘Perch Bobber’ as one of my Christmas presents last year, and is a welcome addition to the second box of floats that I keep.

I have been looking forward the final day of this course fishing season, and was going to use this new bobber for a Perch on a river or pond somewhere. However, this unseasonably warm weather of the past few days has surely got fish on the feed and I was itching to get to a river or pond, it was impossible to wait until the end of this course fishing season, the 14th of March.

There is a commercial fishery near where I live, not the sort of place that I would ever fish, but I learnt of Perch up to 4lb residing there, so was keen to have a crack at one.

I only fished for a couple of hours in the afternoon today, but really enjoyed feeling the warmth from the sun for the first time this year.  I managed to catch two Perch, one of around a pound and a half, and the other a little smaller at around a pound. The biggest surprise was at the end of the day catching a small Tench (on a prawn), not the prettiest Tench I have ever caught, but it just shows how warm the weather is today; quite bizarre.

It is the rule that normally it is the kiss of death fishing with a new float, but I was lucky enough to christen my new Perch Bobber. It could have been a summer’s day.

The Real Acid Test

Looking back I realise that I have not written a post on the old allotment for ages, and being such a nice day today, I have decided it’s about time I wrote one now. The warming sun bringing early hope for the coming spring. Blackbirds are now more evident in the garden; although still a little early to hear their song which I look forward to hearing every year.

I left the allotment baron last year, so the soil really has had a rest. Quality of potatoes and other veg had seemed to have taken a down-turn in previous years, even though organic fertilisers were dug-in.

I had forgotten all about a soil testing kit that I was given some years ago. I had done a few soil tests previously to try it out, but discounted the results, from what I have read they are not very accurate anyway.  Coming back to it this year, I carried out a number of tests with both dry and wet soil, from different depths, and from all over the allotment, and found some interesting results.

It turns out that the soil in the fruit raised beds has a PH around 7, being a light shade of green on the tester. However, the soil from the vegetable raised beds is very, very dark green indicating a PH of at least 8. This is too high for what I grow here, and should, like the fruit section be around PH 7. Doing a little research, I learn that the soils PH can be adjusted over time. I know that other allotmenteers annually ‘lime’ their soil, but this would push my soils PH up even further. I learn that Sulphur is the answer to make your soil more acidic.

I’ve dug-in and watered-in seven of the smaller raised beds, and one of the larger ones. I have no idea if the quantity of sulphur applied has been correct? I fear it is too little, but In around three months or so, I will carry out a few more soil tests to see if this has been successful, and will only know if whatever I plant here grows well this year and provides better crops.

It’s a bit early

It’s a bit early in the year for me to buy my onion sets. I was at my local garden centre recently I could not resist picking up a bag of white and a bag of red.

As usual, I am going to grow “Sturon“, a variety that always does well for me and for my reds, I am going to grow good old “Red Barron“, a variety that others struggle with on our allotment soil, but I seem to do ok with them, and they are great store’s.

I have not grown garlic for a few years now so am going to give it a go this year with a soft neck, mild flavour variety called “Arno“.

Although it is a spring-like day today, I am not planting these until the ground really does warm up a bit, at least not until the end of March. Until then, they will bide their time in the warmth of the greenhouse.

The First Family Holiday

Although I have managed a few fishing trips away this year; this is the very first family break since the birth of our daughter.

It is just as well that I own an estate car as the amount of gear we needed to pack was unprecedented.

I was not expecting to get fishing on our holiday as there would simply be no room in the car for my fishing gear on top of all the family essentials, even in my estate car, but a friend persuaded me to stow a rod away somewhere and said that he may join me on the river bank for a crack at a Perch.

My first choice at this time of year is always a lovely Fred J.Taylor Roach rod that I own. It is quite a large rod and really would not have fitted and possibly would have got damaged in the transit. However, I found in my pile of sticks a rod I forgot that I had, an Edgar Sealey ‘Octofloat‘. This is a three piece rod and is light as a feather, perfect to smuggle into the car.

I had also packed the bare minimum into a Brady bag including a wide drum ‘Speedia‘ that I have not used in ages and looked forward to an afternoon on my favourite Wessex river aiming to catch one of it’s lovely Roach.

Our arrival in Wessex coincided with Storm ‘Callum’ and thoughts of any fishing were very distant for a number of days. Eventually a break in the weather did show on the forecast. Rain had stopped and high pressure was to stay for a couple of days. This was great, and gave the river a little time to recover allowing the water to fine down and clear a little.

The day arrived and was greeted with glorious sunshine, something that we had not seen for ages. Bizarre for this time of the year, mid-October and the temperature was in the high-teens. In fact, as I strolled to the river it could have been mistaken for a glorious summer’s day. Maybe not perfect fishing conditions for some, but perfect for me!

The river was the lowest that I have ever fished it following a very hot summer.  The spot that I chose to fish had very little current in it, which is unusual as later in the season I have know it to be a torrent here.

I did not manage to catch many Roach today, but did land endless Gudgeon, numerous Dace, a few small Chub and a cracking Perch right at the end of the day. A lovely couple of hours were spent.

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.