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The kettle and the trout

Regular readers will recall my conundrum - how to balance a powerful desire to go fishing with an equally strong conviction that the close season should be observed, even if it doesn't exist on still waters any more. I'm happy to report that, thanks to a fly fishing friend I was able to wet a line with a clear conscience.


It also gave me the opportunity to try out my Kelly Kettle for the first time on the bank. I've been fascinated by this thing since I first saw Yates use one in A Passion For Angling and with every sour mouthful of stewed thermos tea since, have wanted to send my own smoke signals up from the bank side. I pursued one across the Internet on and off for a couple of years before eventually convincing my wife that it would make the perfect Christmas present. Two Christmases ago, it arrived.

So why the long delay? A combination of things. My dodgy knee, a nervousness about those smoke signals, visions of red-faced farmers shaking sticks at me for setting fires on their property, releasing the hounds Mr Burns-style from the top of the field. Then there's the whole business of lighting the things. Just a few twigs and bits of paper. Yeah, right.

Then, as she often does, my wife solved the problem. A packet of 24 mini fuel tablets, designed for a disposable camping stove. Three quid. That's one per brew up. At that rate, they'll not only last for ages but they'll also guarantee that each kettle will combust, exactly as it should.

And so it did. I won't bore you with the ingenious design of the kettle itself (if you're interested you can find out more here); suffice to say it was a complete success and resulted in two perfect cups of tea during this short evening session - one of which can be seen here.

And the fishing? Just fine. And to prove it's possible to learn a new skill and catch a different kind of fish during the old close season, I give you this pretty little rainbow trout, caught in the early evening with a yellow duster. See? I told you I could do it.


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Waterlog

Finally after - literally - years of trying, I've had a proper paid-for article accepted by Waterlog, the world's most peculiar fishing magazine. Should you be inclined to seek it out, it's in the Spring 2006 edition, somewhere near the back, and it's called Ray and the Needle.


Meantime, Sean has phoned. There may be a way out of my close season dilemma. It has something to do with flies and trout. And I think there may have been in a boat in there somewhere...More news when we have it.
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Down the estate


I mistakenly identified last night's venue as an estate lake to my friend Sean. Actually, it probably just looks like one - long, thin, shallow, reeded, wooded sides, noisy (animals, not anglers) and a stream at one end. We've caught wild carp there in the past. Hence the attraction.

But I fished unconvincingly. I caught some nice roach and rudd to about half a pound and had plenty of bites, but couldn't quite get into it. Our side of the lake was awash with sunshine until it dipped below the trees and it was hot and uncomfortable; and hard to see the float. It was also incredibly shallow, not much more than two feet where I was. We used to catch a lot of small tench and crucians here but there were no sign of them today. For the last 45 minutes I switched to floating dog biscuit in the hope of a wild carp. Hooking one of these wildies is like lighting the fuse on a rocket.

Good job I didn't catch one, then.
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Cyprus Irae


Having been invited back to the lake where I was smashed up the other week, I had a decision to make. I could continue to try for roach and rudd in the hope of landing one of the many pound plus fish that are supposed to be there, or switch tackle and tactics and try for a carp.

As ever, I vaccilated between the two. Only an hour before leaving I was determined to fish for carp and had even dusted off my 'bite alarm' - meat skewer, length of 40lb line, a budgie bell and a hairgrip - in preparation. Then I changed my mind again. You see, if I weigh things up, I find that a pound roach is actually worth more to me than a 10 or possibly 15lb carp (after that things get less clear). So, float fishing again, cheese paste (now with extra cheese to give it more bite and stop it from falling off the bloomin' hook so easily) sweetcorn and luncheon meat. The only concession? A stiffer 12' rod.

Oh, and I didn't fish the same swim either. That trio of lily pads with the pool in the middle and channel down the centre just doesn't offer the space to play anything substantial, so instead I moved next door where there are lilies on the right but open water everywhere else. I thought that should I hook a carp, there was a decent chance it would head away from the pads, and into the body of the lake where I might stand a chance.

Things began well. Like before it fished briskly for the first hour or so, then went dead, then slowly warmed up again. So I caught a sequence of rudd courtesy of bite after sailaway bite. No two pounders. Not even a one pounder. Nice fish nevertheless.

Of course the carp came and of course it kited right, wrapping me round the lilies and throwing the hook. I saw it briefly, a bar of gold, longer than my forearm, rising furiously to the surface as it tore across the lake. After that the swim went dead until a little tench wandered along with about half an hour to go.

Next time I shall neither shilly nor shally. I shall instead, catch carp. I swore this by the light of the fullest moon I've seen for years as I drove back along the edge of the Downs. The way angling works, I'll probably catch a two pound roach...
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Carpe diem

Still smarting from the lost carp of last week, I elected to extract my revenge at a local lake that teems with them. I hadn't been for two years but it looked more or less the same - though the reed beds in the middle have either died off or been tidied away.


And there they were. Dozens of carp of indeterminate size, cruising around on or near the surface, nosing bits of debris, taking the occasional insect, bumping into the ducks. Great fun. I tackled up with a 12ft North Western, large fixed spool reel and 8lb line straight through to a size 6 hook. Bait was dog biscuits. Now despite what people say, these need virtually no treatment to make them soft enough for the hook. All you need is a plastic bag or a bait box and some boiling water. Put your dry biscuits in the bag/box and pour a little boiling water over them. Seal the bag/close the lid and give them a good sloosh around. By the time you get to the water, they'll be ready to use.

My first bite came courtesy of a horsefly. Oh how they love my sweet, sweaty flesh. (In Ireland two years ago my hand went up like a balloon after a bite like this). Second bite was a small common which tore into the dog biscuit as if chased by all the demons of carp hell. In all I caught six, of which the biggest is here - probably about 7lbs, but maybe a touch more. I lost three more, one of which was sizeable, but packed up before 10.00pm feeling happy and contented.

I don't actually like carp fishing much, but catching them like this is exciting. Sure you can see them coming a lot of the time, but after a while, you can almost sense them lurking beneath the bait, even if there's nothing to actually see. And that moment when the bait and water around it seems to drop, creating a little belly in the water when a fish is moving up from underneath to take the bait, is electrifying.

So, as long as there are no bite alarms and it's kept simple, then maybe I do enjoy carp fishing after all.

A nice mirror carp caught off the surface. Biggest of the season so far. The float's there for scale.

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