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About this pike, then. I've had it in my head to go pike fishing for months now, but as is the way of these things, have been put off by something simple - I'm too cheap to buy ready-made wire traces and I can't get the hang of tying my own; yet having spent a tenner on the all the required bits, I'm loathe to just give up...

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Sometimes it doesn't take much to sum up a fishing trip. There's always the temptation to over-think or over-write what's gone on, but usually the fewer words you use, the better...

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Farewell, John Wilson

No, not TV's Mr. Angling, but rather the rod that bears his name. I've owned and enjoyed the original Avon/Quiver for over 10 years now. It's a quality little rod - though the lack of a threaded reel seat means my Mitchell periodically falls off and tumbles down the bank...

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First of the Year

Sometimes fishing is supposed to be difficult. I don't mind that. It makes the moment when you winkle a bite - or even a fish - out of a swim that's beligerently refusing to play ball, that much sweeter. But sometimes, nature turns her back on the angler...

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Bites Galore

Back to the river the next day then. Having phoned the club to try and secure the weir swim for the evening I could hear the laughter in their voice when they told me the next free slot was Saturday. Who says anglers don't have a social life?

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Where's the Weir?

One of the joys of modern computing is better mapping. I love maps. Sometimes they take you to places where you'll never ever go and other times they tell you what to expect when you get there. Aerial photographs are even more exciting because despite the veneer of accuracy, there's no way of knowing how out of date they are...

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Sorry about that.

So, I've been hoarding worms. Two tubs of dendrabenas and one of red worms, against the time when I could unleash them on the tench and perch that populate one of the smaller club waters. Last night, their moment came...
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The Mighty Trout

I've joked in the past about fishing in the old close season but as we know, this is my time for breaking patterns, throwing tradition to the wind and trying new things. So I'm actually going trout fishing next week. For real trout. With a fly rod...

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Safety Net

I'm painfully aware of a pattern that has developed over the last few seasons, whereby I indulge in plenty of fishing-related razzle-dazzle from the 16th to the end of the month, only to tail off badly by the beginning of July. I'm thus determined to go fishing.

However, the weather's been so repellant recently that I haven't felt like wetting a line, so when Sunday dawns bright and cheerful, I reckon I can make a break for it at around tea time. I go off vacation house hunting with my friend George for a few hours in the morning and we pass right by the little lane that curls down towards the farm where the club has one of its lakes. I narrow my eyes meaningfully as we hum by in his Fiat Cordoba - I shall return later and lay waste to your tench.

After lunch I fall asleep reading Sheringham's Fly Fishing Memories and Morals, a wonderful book bought for me by my brother and then set aside because it was about trout fishing. Which goes to show how much I know. I picked it up a week or two back and have been enthralled ever since; what a writer. So, when my wife raises me from my snooze I decide to go - after all, that's what HTS would do. Out with the old cane rod and centrepin reel, grab a few floats, some fuel for the kettle, water, a cup and spoon and - to prove my modernising credentials - a couple of sachets of Nescafe Cappuccino, a fiendish froth introduced to me by my mum. It saves taking any milk you see.

I grab the landing net which has been drying outside, furl it up, and lean it next to the kitchen door while I get my little bait box from the outside window sill. I load up with luncheon meat, get everything together - including a new camera, more of which next time - and almost trip off to the car.

It's an easy drive, past Lewes prison and then down country lanes until I reach the farm. There's a slight moment of panic when I remember that they've put a padlock on the gate, but I've got my club card and that turns out to have the number on the front, so I ease down the track (the 323 seems to sit lower in the field than my old 626) and then coast down to the water's edge. There are plenty of cars there but most will be here to fish the larger of the two lakes, which is where the carp are. I climb out, open the boot, pull out the rod and landing net handle, get my shirt and waistcoat, sling the creel over one shoulder, grab the kettle in the same hand, and reach down for the landing net - which is still leaning by the kitchen door.

I think about it for fully five minutes, but there are beautiful tench here and lovely little crucian carp and they deserve better than me trying to fumble them to the bank with my hand. So I put everything back in the car, connect the iPod again, turn the car round and head on up the field. I wonder whether my fellow anglers noticed me arrive and then depart. I undo the padlock and drive through the open gate, stop the car, close the gate, snap the padlock shut and give the combination a nasty twirl. On the podcast, Melvyn Bragg is talking about Siegfried Sassoon and I'm going home.

Which is why I'm sitting here typing this with a can of Strongbow by my side, instead of enjoying the early evening in the company of tench and crucian carp and a cappuccino. Am I pissed off? Yes. Did I do the right thing? Absolutely.


Virtual fishing

So Ray e-mails from work to say that he's going to the river the next day. Aiming for a 6.00am start and then fishing 'till midday. I hum and hah and then decide that I'll see how I feel in the morning and take my own car. I've got some work to catch up on and I'm feeling slightly below par.

So 5.00am rolls around and I wake up, roll over, snuffle attractively and then drop back into sleep. I get up, get Marion and our student Anastasia breakfast and then start planning an article about Windows Calendar. About 9.30 I phone Ray to see how he's getting on. I can picture where he is, by the tree down the far end of the stretch we usually fish - had lots of good sessions there before. He's probably out of signal or landing some enormous carp.

About 12.00 the phone goes. It's Ray.

"How did you get on?" he asks.

"I didn't go, Ray. But if you're asking me that..."

There's a pause.

"I didn't go either," he says.

"Didn't fancy it," says I.

"Neither did I," says he.

By which time we're both laughing.


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