Anger is an energy…

Today has been a difficult day in terms of emotions. This morning saw me in deep depression, which only sleep would cure, through to anger this evening. 

I think the anger rose from a feeling of frustration that I cannot solve all of the issues around me, and my temper exploded through kicking cabinets in the kitchen to aggressively making dinner, which I was still too angry to eat.

I had already planned to go fishing in the morning, so all of my gear was packed and ready. It seemed logical to remove myself from the home environment, and to reduce the stress that my anger and frustration was causing. I gathered my kit together, loaded it into the car, and headed for the canal. 

Nature has a calming effect on me, and it didn’t take long for the sights, sounds and smells of the natural environment to dissolve the feelings of anger, and to restore a sense of calm and peace. Firing up the stove for a coffee, and getting stuck into the meal I had made earlier made a world of difference. So did setting up my rods, retying one of them, in the hope that a fish would take the bait.

Calmer later, I headed for home, even though I planned to sleep outdoors. I have supplies for the morning, and plan to be out first thing tomorrow.

I’m calm now.

https://youtu.be/Vq7JSic1DtM

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That’s better…

I’ve had a rough day today… not feeling too good about myself and my attitude, I spent the morning at college on my Counselling Diploma. This morning, we were working in groups presenting controversial issues to each other and letting the debates ensue. I dug myself further and further into my cave, withdrawing from the room and the ensuing debates.

I presented our groups issue (enforced euthanasia) with sheer bloody mindedness, stayed for the following group, made my excuses and left, knowing that my mood and mental state would not be conducive to learning that afternoon.

IMG_5139
The Pond in late Autumn

After a long lunch and a cuddle with my wife on my return home, I packed up my fishing rods and backpack and headed back to my favourite fishing spot of the summer, “my pond”. Just walking down the towpath in the late autumn sun made me feel better. The canal was high after heavy rain last week, and the trees were mostly bare, allowing more to be seen in the fields around the canal.

 

 

IMG_5135
Rods are out…

Arriving at the pond, the feelings of the morning faded, and a warm smile spread across my face. It is good to be back at one of my favourite places to relax. The pond seemed a little different, as it is not covered by so much foliage now, but it has lost none of its magic calming effect. Being in nature is such a tonic to me in times of distress and upset.

IMG_5134
The Pond in late Autumn

 

After fishing with my good friend Rolf at the end of last week down in Hampshire (I was after Pike, Rolf was after Carp), I was certain that there is a dirty great big Pike in the pond… I had seen it briefly over the Summer, and the lack of water birds on the pond confirmed it to me and my friends. Rolf has kindly set me up with Pike rigs and a bigger landing net, so Im determined to go after the Pike in the pond, alongside fishing for the larger Roach that are definitely in there too.

Here’s to an exciting Winter at a lovely spot, and catching some big fish. It makes me happy.

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
IMG_4185
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
locks
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!

Double whammy…

I’ve been fishing twice today… and made my own bait!

After talking to my good buddy Rolf yesterday, who was also canal fishing last night, I was determined to get bank side as early as possible, and try own my home made bait! (I cooked up some sweetcorn with sesame oil, sugar and spices yesterday afternoon…) I prepped everything last night, packed my bag, and managed to be set up next to the canal bridge just after 5:00 this morning.

It was lovely being outside before anyone else was about on the tow path, There was still a little mist rolling off the water as I baited up, as there was plenty of activity under the water. Casting out nearer the bridge was much better, as there are less trees overhanging on this bank. Great for practising my casting, and getting my accuracy better.

The new bait worked well, as fish were definitely into it. As soon as I got some out into the water, the bubbles were up, and feeding was instant! Sadly, even though the fish clearly liked the bait, they were only knocking, not biting in the morning. Mind you, I found out some interesting info about the canal later in the day…

I was a little upset about not catching anything in the morning, so planned to try another stretch of the canal later in the day, and some different bait. Ham.

After lunch and a lovely walk with my wife and our dog, I had a really nice walk over the old canal tunnel (about half a mile long and was built in 1797), to try out a different stretch of water. After letting a canal barge and a canoe through, I baited up with the sweetcorn mix, then baited my hook with small strips of ham. (My reckoning was that they’d look a bit like worms…) There were definite fish signs, but rain stopped play, making it very difficult to see what was bubbles from fish, or bubbles from the rain.

Back to the info about the canal… Whilst I was fishing, a lovely old chap stopped to see how I was getting on. He was an angler too. I was chatting about fishing the Fleckney end of the canal in the morning, and not catching anything. It turns out that a local farmer had released slurry into the canal last year, killing over 20,000 fish, leading to our stretch of the canal needing to be seriously restocked, even though many fish were saved. (The farmer did it again too…) No wonder there’s not many fish around, nor are they biting. Neither, for that matter, have I seen any other anglers over the last month. The old chap was telling me about fish that used to be in the canal, tench, bream and carp. All at good weights and size too.

We chatted for a while longer, and I was getting some really nice knocks, which we were both commenting on. He was kind enough to offer advice on water depth and line length, which definitely made a difference to the rest of my session. Oh yeah, the ham didn’t work, but the fish liked the sweetcorn.

So, I didn’t catch anything yet again today, but I had a really nice time learning and growing as an angler. I walked home through the canal fields really happy that I’d learnt more about fishing and enjoyed what nature has to offer. Thanks for reading…

Over the tunnel
Overgrown and overground…
Early morning
Early morning at the Fleckney end…
Fleckney tunnel
Saddington end of the tunnel
Saddington end
Opposite stretch after the rain…

Lovely evening…

It’s so nice spending time at the canal in my favourite fishing spot. Such a sense of calm and tranquillity, sitting under the shade of a tree with nature providing the soundtrack and light show.

Switching up my baits (luncheon meat and sweetcorn) and rigs tonight certainly got the fish really interested, as they were right on top of my rig, but they still didn’t bite. It didn’t matter to me that I didn’t catch anything, as learning more about what baits and rigs the fish like is a wonderful part of the game. Fishing solo is such a lovely thing to do. I really want to catch a fish, but the whole experience is what makes it. Your senses are working overtime… watching the water, listening for fish movement; touching the line and reel – playing the float into place. But your brain is so calm and quiet. Nothing exists except the moment, everything else fades away.

So I blanked again, but the buzz of seeing fish near my float was superb, a wonderful vindication of what I am learning. The only problem was the mystery tangle of line coming off my reel, which I’ll sort on the morrow, as it was getting too dark to sort bank-side.

Happy fisherman…

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!

Hello bulls…

I’ve been to the canal again this evening… the light was lovely, and all was calm.

I baited up and cast out into the middle of the canal, as there were signs there on Sunday on the stretch I’ve chosen. As it was breezy, the current was moving quite fast, as were the fish. They were definitely there, as I could see plenty of signs of them surface feeding, so I baited more heavily nearer to where they were appearing. A few well placed casts got me right next to them, but they weren’t biting. They were also a couple of smaller fish (about finger size) that actually jumped right out of the water! So close…

Still, it was so nice just sitting there, a big smile on my face, watching the fish moving about and feeding. So calm and relaxing.

On the way back, I had a comedy moment. I had stopped to sort my rod out, as the knot on the lead had slipped, and there was a right old tangle of line! I was away in a little world of my own, when I realised the young bullocks in the field had wandered over to see what this funny human was up to… It did make me giggle, seeing a dozen of them standing in a row, mystified.

A wonderful way to spend an evening. Calm, happy and content.

Near bank - Lookout point
Near bank – Lookout point
Far bank - they're out there!
Far bank – they’re out there!
Sunset on the way home
Sunset on the way home

Going solo…

Been out on my first solo fishing mission today, without my very good friend and mentor, Rolf. (Mind you, he does live a fair drive away…)

The learning curve at present is HUGE, from knots to bait, casting to positions, hooks, line and sinkers! After a bit of a mess setting up my rod at first, I got it spot on second time round, added a rig and headed for the canal. It was so nice to walk up through the canal fields where I have since my childhood, cross the old bridge, and wander into the woods to the spot I’d ‘found’ on Friday. It was lovely and shady under the trees, good for hiding me from any fish, and a perfect spot to get baited up and make my first cast.

Handling maggots could have been an issue for me, as I’m a bit squeamish about slimy stuff and all that. (I’ve been scared of frogs and toads since I was tiny… They still freak me out a bit now, but I know they look lovely.) I’m pleased to report that handling maggots wasn’t an issue at all, and I baited my hook fine and baited up around the ‘swim’ I’d picked out. Yay! First issue resolved!

Casting out was cool, as I was short casting near the bank, thinking that’s where the fish would be… Well, the fish were there for sure, as there was plenty of surface activity, but more towards the middle of the canal. Mind, I couldn’t cast there, as there were barges cruising through. Hey ho…

It did quiet down, and I recast further out towards the centre or the water. Time passed in a weird way, slowly and quickly simultaneously. Focussing on a small stretch of water for hours made time disappear, and I slowly lost myself to nature. Birdsong, wind, sun, insects on the water and the occasional splash of fish feeding became my soundtrack. It’s a lovely feeling just being in nature, and I was very aware of the large smile on my face. I was truly in the moment and very happy.

I didn’t catch anything on this trip, but I could see that the fish were there. I will return later this week, trying different angles, times and spaces in my little corner of the canal bank. So happy and calm. Catch you later… (LOL!)

Rod rest Happy face Tree Canal overview