Daybreaker

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Squelching through fields and along tow-paths in wellington boots before the sun has even risen may seem like insanity to some, but it seemed perfectly sane to me yesterday morning.

I had prepped and packed my rucksack and breakfast the night before, meaning that I could venture forth quickly once my alarm awoke me. It felt good to have planned ahead and to be prepared.

IMG_0037Seeing signs of piscine activity upon my arrival at the locks made me smile. I was happy to be out of doors in the early hours, and the fact that I kept catching myself smile made me realise how much nature means to me.

I fired up my stove and got the kettle on for coffee and tucked into leftover Christmas dinner to break my fast. I also scattered some breakfast for the fish, of which they were only to happy to partake of.

IMG_0043Whilst the coffee was brewing, I set up my rods, preparing them for casting out into the murky water afore me. Buying a rig guide from Carpology has already made such a difference to my fishing, having given me greater confidence with knots, baits, leads and lines. After all, I cannot have my best friend with me all the time to show me the best set up for any angling occurrence. His family would miss him…

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The fish were very keen on the bait that I had put out, showing plenty of activity through the murk on the canal. I cast out both rods to where they seemed to be feeding, one midway across the canals span, the other in front of deep weed on the opposite bank.

They were keen to chow down on my bait, but not my hooks, no matter where I cast, my alarms staying silent. I was not unhappy however, as it was glorious to be at one with the elements. I know that there will be more occasions bankside, as the fish now have a taste for my bait. It is only a matter of time before one is in my net.

Happy days…

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Gone fishing… again!

It’s been really nice to have a day off today. Even with being self employed, sometimes you need to take a break. The last few weeks have been really busy, as we’ve had some big projects on,but both my wife and I are so happy with how our art and design business is growing.

I spent a little time tying a new (to me) rig ready for the mornings fishing, whilst keeping an eye on the weather (it’s really windy in the UK at the mo…). After bundling my simple fishing setup into my rucksack, grabbed a single rod, my net and folding stool and headed off for the canal.

I’m experimenting with equipment setups at the mo, seeing how little I can get away with for various activities. For example, I have found that I can go fishing with a rucksack, a single rod, small net and a folding stool. My lovely old rucksack carries a stove, fishing kit in sectioned box, bait, kettle, insulated cup, frying pan, food and most importantly, coffee bags. I have a folding water carrier, notebook and mechanical pencil, and thats about it. It sounds like quite a lot, but it’s quite minimal really.

I don’t want to get too bogged down in kit lists, as I think it’s more important to write about experiences than things, but I’m really enjoying the challenge of exploring without too much stuff getting in the way. Its more fun that way, you enjoy it more if you’re not worrying about having the right knife, cup, rope, whatever.

So, back to fishing. I’ve been reading a lot in Carpology lately about methods, techniques, tips, history and so on. There’s a really interesting article in last month’s issue about baiting up and waiting, sometimes for days. It really resonated with me. Today, I started putting it into action.

Arriving at the canal, I had to wait whilst a narrow boat moved up through the locks that were next to the swim I’m fishing in at the mo.  All good, it gave me time to have breakfast and get a brew on. Once the boat moved on, I baited up, had coffee, more breakfast and waited for almost an hour before I cast out. (It was as long as I can manage at the mo… I am building my patience up again. It’s kind of a zen thing with me and fishing.)

The fish are out there, I saw them this morning, and they were definitely knocking around the bait, as my bite alarm testified, but no bites today. Thats okay. I’m really enjoying being outdoors again, whatever the weather, and the challenge of catching a fish in a natural environment. It may take longer, but that’s what I’m enjoying. Learning about fish, their patterns of behaviour, diet, hooks, line, all that. You never stop learning in this world.

TeethRename

Claw Rig

 

Let’s go exploring… Chapter 2

Good evening… ready for chapter 2 of my walking and fishing adventures? Good. Pull up a chair, grab a brew, and I’ll begin…

Last Friday saw me head back further down the Grand Union Canal, headed for the spot I saw on Wednesday night. My bait was prepped, line, floats and weights ready, let’s go! As I was walking down towards the swim, I spotted a gap in the hedgerow next to me, and decided to investigate. There was a bloody pond through there!

I got really excited, as there was lots of activity, with bubbles and ripples coming up all over the place. I was really tempted to stay there and fish, forsaking my other swim, but wasn’t sure about permissions and so on. There weren’t any signs up saying no fishing or anything, and there was no access issues… I made a quick call to my fishing mentor, Rolf, to see what he though about the pond. He wasn’t sure either, and didn’t know whether he’d risk fishing there either, in case of hassles.  I logged the spot for further investigation, and headed to the swim I planned on fishing.

The swim was just past a set of locks and a bridge, and there was a lot of activity there too! I baited up, cast out and waited… As I was watching the water, I could hear the sounds of someone crashing through the weeds on the opposite bank, and generally being pretty noisy. The opposite bank isn’t easily accessible, so the folks must have cut through a field to get to it. Two loud, Eastern Europeans (I didn’t know what they were speaking, but it certainly sounded European) appeared through the weeds, crashing about and clinking bottles of beer, intent on fishing the opposite bank.

They proceeded to make lots more noise smashing down weeds to get access to the water. I’m happy for other folks to fish a spot, but the noise and apparent bad manners made me feel uncomfortable. I’ve heard horror stories recently from older anglers about Eastern Europeans turning up and ‘fishing out’ a spot, often cooking fish by the banks… I didn’t want to assume these two were intending on doing this, but I felt unwelcome in a public space. I managed to shake this feeling and carried on fishing for a while, getting plenty of knocks, but no bites. After a while, I decided to leave the others to it, and head back to the pond for a short while…

By the time I got back to the pond, the light was going, so I baited up near the bank, and cast short near the edges. Bingo! I got the best bite I’ve had so far, proper full on tugs, two of them! I was grinning like an idiot, happy with the action. The light was gone, so it was time to be homeward bound, but a return visit to the pond was definitely on the cards!

Second swim
Left bank of the pond
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Giant weeds – deadly?
Second swim
Second swim

Let’s go exploring… Chapter 1

It’s been a really good week for exploring the countryside and waterways around me. Not having a car for a while makes a huge difference. I like it, heck, I even rode my bike this week!

It was the last Scout meeting before our Summer break on Tuesday, which was great fin, as we set up a HUGE water slide, covered it with baby bath and water, and spent a couple of hours slipping and sliding. Much hilarity ensued. I also got my paperwork for Assistant Troop Leader sorted, and just have a short informal interview next week, then I’m official! Excited! We had chips from our fab chip shop to celebrate!

On Wednesday evening, I went exploring for new fishing spots. I had already planned getting some walking in, after finding out more about the state of the fish stocks in our stretch of the canal, so a journey further afield was required. I knew I could get to a further stretch of the Grand Union Canal by following footpaths, so set out after supper for a lovely walk through corn fields and onto the canal.

You come onto the canal at a set of locks with a bridge next to them, and there were already good signs of fish around. Just after the bridge there is a big swim, surrounded by tall reeds, with plenty of weed and features for fish to hover under, which looked really promising. I logged that swim for a later session, as I was headed for a bridge further down the canal. Walking down this stretch of canal was lovely, as I hadn’t really explored it that much, and I love walking in the countryside. Heck, I just love walking!

There was good signs all the way down the canal, and it was really nice to stop at the bridge to set up and start fishing. I’ve driven, cycled and walked over this bridge so many times in my life, that it was just so nice to be stood next to it, immersed in nature, and scanning the tree line opposite for signs of fish. I baited up with this evening’s corn mix (hot chilli, ginger, mustard seeds and sesame oil) with my ace old baiting spoon (big old kitchen spoon… we’re on a tight budget these days!), and cast out to the opposite bank…

It was pretty quiet for a while, but then the feeding began, and there were a good few knocks, with fish showing interest. Casting around a fairly small stretch of water seemed to be paying off, as there was definite activity. There was a HUGE splash at one point, sounding like a cow had jumped in the water. It was too far over for me to see anything, but there were some BIG ripples coming out from the trees… Hmmm.

I stayed there until the light started to really go, mindful I had a two mile walk back, and I didn’t fancy doing it in the dark! Happy that I’d found another good swim, I packed up and headed back up the canal for home, smiling and content. I checked out the swim near the locks on the way back, very happy to see signs of BIG fish over there. That’ll be the next session sorted then!

To be continued…

Stormy Cornfield
Stormy cornfield en route to the Grand Union Canal
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Locks after the bridge
A6 trees
Trees on the opposite bank
A6 towpath
Towpath heading towards Wistow
weeds swim
Weedy swim on the opposite bank
baiting spoon
Trusty baiting spoon!
PORK!
PORK! Evidence there’s definitely been fishing done here!

Hooked!

Back from my best solo fishing session yet! I got my first bite, though the fish got away!

I feel so happy and calm right now. I had intended to go down to the canal for two hours tonight, and fish the other side of the bridge, as there seemed to be more fish activity on that side, BUT… I looked over to the side of the canal where I have been fishing for the last few weeks just in time time to catch sight of a mighty splash in line with my usual spot. Game on! I was fishing down there for sure!

Trying to keep calm and quiet after seeing activity in ‘my’ spot, I got down there quick sharp, baited up with sweetcorn, using the water from the tin at the canal’s edge to tempt the fish, got some corn on my hook and cast out… There was lots of activity on the far bank, near the weeds, and a little further from there too. I felt really happy, and proud that my tactic of baiting up this spot seemed to be paying off. The fish were out there, and definitely interested…

I got a little frustrated that I seemed to be casting more into the overhanging tree for a while, and managed to break a float… It was a freebie, but still. I set up a new float and rig with lighter weights, and this seemed to do the trick. Casting out to the other bank, and allowing the mild current of the canal to shift the float and rig a little closer paid off, as the fish were a lot more interested, bubbling up around the float. Time passed without me noticing, as watching the fish draw ever closer was so exciting. I was willing them on to take the bait… then one did!

This was my first proper bite, as I was fishing solo, so it was really exciting. I managed to get the fish out of the water, a small Roach (I think) about six inches long, but it wriggled off the hook and splashed back into the canal with a plop! Miffed, but so happy that I’d got a bite!

roach

Time had passed, and I had planned to head for home, but they were biting now! I stayed on for an extra hour, until the light started fading, enjoying seeing the fish get ever closer to the float, but not quite taking the bait. Plenty of knocks, but no more bites I’m afraid. I cleared up, taking my rubbish home, and walked back with a REALLY big smile on my face. I might not of actually caught and landed my first fish on my own, but I was so close. I’m hooked!