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Carp photos? What do you take me for?

I don’t often spend much time fishing for carp and when I catch one it’s usually because it’s snaffled a bait meant for a tench or a roach, a rudd or a crucian. That’s not to say I’m unhappy when one comes along...
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Sauce for the goose

I don’t know what they’re feeding the geese at Flintstones but it’s going through them like a dose of the proverbials and means it’s almost impossible to walk two steps in a straight line without encountering something that squirted from a goose’s arse...

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The Transformer

I once heard the English fascination with caravans described thus: it's because we love things that fold away. Simple as that. Not because we yearn for the freedom of the open road or because of some deep-seated need to take our houses with us, but simply because...

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The Rocket Carp

My wife asked my this morning how fast carp swim. Seriously. I love that woman. I'd been talking about the wild carp (or near as dammit wild carp - lean, little torpedoes that look more like barbel than carp) in a local lake that I hadn't fished for years. I'd forgotten what they were like...

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I'm a giver, me...

It's nights like these that I feel extremely fortunate to be living here and now. There's enough wrong with England in the 21st century - this spiteful government for starters - that it's easy to forget places like this still exist, pretty much on your doorstep...

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Back on the horse...

I nearly bottled it. Driving back from Bucks through sheets of rain (and only a poncho in the boot because the brolly's still under Marion's bed) I just thought I'd leave it. I'd get soaked, the banks would be beyond treacherous - and recalling my last visit, well...

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Here we go again

t's about this time of the year that I gently re-introduce myself to fishing after the winter break. There's some fun poking about rustiness, occasionally something more esoteric where I worry over losing the fishing gene that's supplied me with so much fun and contentment over the years...

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A Fine Idea

Apparently it was all my idea, which was why Ray expressed surprise at my surprise that he should telephone to ask what time we were meeting up to go fishing that evening.

This came as something of a shock. I tried to piece together the events of the previous evening. One old fart meeting two other old farts to play some guitar - check. Songs old and new, borrowed and original - check. Bottle of French cider - check. Bottle of cheap French red wine - check. Further bottle of imported cider - oh dear...although nothing's coming back to me (certainly not Ray's insistence on my insistence that we go fishing this evening) it's all starting to make a terrible sense.

And, since it was my idea, I'll claim the credit for it. A lovely evening. No-one else at the water at all, some nice tench, a few small rudd and roach, the inveitable eel, an inquisitive field mouse who made so much noise in the rushes next to me that it sounded as though he was driving a car around in there, and this beautiful common carp. About 8lbs, he took a small piece of luncheon meat on a size 12 hook, first cast and proceeded to tear around the swim, tugging the old John Wilson left and then right (I'm enjoying giving this rod a run out this season, it's been a while); finally he came in, neatly lip hooked and went back in the swim next door after having his photo taken.

We saw a hot air balloon, several dozen bats, several million midges, and watched as the perch - which are growing to a decent size by all accounts - scattered fry all over one half of the lake for about an hour before the sun went down and set the sky on fire. Which as you can see, was a sight worth coming whether we caught any fish or not.

Black Sheep

Having decided to head for a different stretch of the river my plans were scuppered after a quick check of the club website. We don't have that bit any more; instead we've got the stretch over the road which is nigh on unfishable - steep, steep banks, no swims and no fish so far as I can see (I'll fit right in then).
So instead, I set off for a couple of small ponds near the river, up and over a field or two and set out of the way in a small copse. I haven't fished here for years but for the patient, quiet angler, there used to be nice crucian carp and the odd tench.

Got lost of course and ended up driving the 323 over some farmer's fields, weaving in and out of the wheels of hay, trying to find a landmark I could remember from all those years back. In the end I came back out onto the road, bouncing cheerfully up and down, and taking the next turning found myself on a much more likely-looking dirt track. The car heaved a sigh of relief and things began to slip into place. I remembered this. The little flat area in front of the wooden building and the path over the top towards the copse.

There was a small, unremembered orchard which was infested with the noisiest sheep I've ever come across. They dashed towards me as I opened the gate and I had to poke them out of the way with the rod. Gate closed I set off through the orchard as the light settled and the sheep got back to sheep stuff. Later on I would hear them as I fished, sounding for all the world like they were having a huge fist fight.

Presented with another gate I was temporarily flummoxed. The club issues a membership card which has the padlock number for all the waters that are locked to keep out scroungers. It's a four digit number. This padlock only had three barrels. I tried the first three numbers, then the last three, then gave up and hauled my ageing carcass over the top of the gate. As I jumped off it made that kind of metal whanging sound as it vibrated back and forth - haven't heard that for a while.

The ponds were even more overgrown than before, the trees having spread out and over much of the water, leaving small open pools and little clear spots here and there. I had a quick reccy and disturbed a few surface feeding fish, probably small carp, before setting a float road and fishing with little lumps of luncheon meat on a size 12. It was really shallow, in fact even the two little commons I caught must have almost been scraping along the bottom of the pond in order to stay out of sight. Fish came up at my feet for insects and as the sun dropped the bats came out, flitting between the trees and swooping down to the water. I made a coffee about 8.30 and then fished until dark. Two bites, two fish, just either side of a pound.

Packing up, I put the little head torch on and went cold when it picked out two bright, blank eyes, standing at head height just on the other side of the fence. I caught the outline of pointed ears and a heavy, distended jaw before my Dennis Wheatley-style monster metamorphosed into a pleasantly curious bullock watching me get my gear together.

Oddly by the time I got back into the field, he'd vanished, and though I felt certain he'd ambush me with a comical head butt to the arse as I heaved back over the gate, he didn't. Instead I heard him cropping the bushes in the next field, making them shudder and shake.

Which meant I forgot the sheep completely. Delighted by my return, they pounded out of the darkness of the orchard - about eight of them - and proceeded to gambol around me in a parody of welcome. I could see their sheepy teeth and read the slow intent in their eyes. I've seen the movie. Next time I shall come armed with mint sauce.

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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