Sunday 1 January 2023

AWOL Again

I won't dwell too much on the last 6 months of angljng inactivity. Fishing has been sparse. Life's responsibilities, challenges and niggles all too often conspiring to prevent piscatorial escapism. 

Priorities took over, naturally. Fishing sat on the back burner, but never far from the mind. Reminded of what I was missing through social media connections, waiting for any brief opportunity.

The enthusiasm hasn't wained though. Far from it. As I drove towards the river on a windswept late December afternoon I passed a couple of joggers caught in a rain shower. "They must be mad" I chuckled to myself. Then I remembered what I was about to do!

But despite facing a gusty 3 hours with periods of rain cascading almost horizontally across me, I was as happy as a pig in muck. I've genuinely appreciated every ounce of fishing I've been able to extract.

Most of my short sessions have been on the River Blythe for convenience. I still haven't hit my 5lb chub target, having gone close earlier in the year (previous season) with a fish of 4lb 15oz. The best so far this season is 4lb 5oz, but the better opportunities to expand on that probably lie in the weeks ahead.

I did manage my first Blythe trout over the summer, which was a pleasant surprise.

No barbel at all in 2022 for me, although I think I only spent about 2 hours after them! Hopefully I'll find more time in 2023 for them. The same applies to predator fishing. Just one short session in December which ended barren in chilly conditions.

Total number of sessions in 2022 was 22 - an increase of 3 on 2021! Total bank time was still well under 100 hours though. 

I won't set any targets for 2023, other than to spend more time on the bank. I'll be culling a couple of tickets, but will still have a clutch of others in my wallet. Still far more than I'll ever need, but like a woman is drawn to buying shoes, fishing tickets are my weakness! And rods and reels...

Saturday 28 May 2022

Closed Season Briefly Open

Just the one brief  moment where I let my hair down during the 3 month hibernation period.

It wasn't planned well. In fact it wasn't really planned at all. It was late on a Saturday afternoon. With no boozy companions available for the evening and a toddler acting compliantly and sleepy, I declared I was going fishing.

I lobbed some gear in the car and headed for the car par park peg on a local club water. Nobody else there at all. Technically I shouldn't have been either, as the day in question was a closed day - for work party duties. 

I genuinely didn't realise until I consulted the vast rule list on arrival, but I figured I was there anyway and the work party ship had sailed many hours earlier, so I decided I wasn't getting in the way. 

All I caught were a skimmer and some of the many ugly carp (battered mouths) that call this place home. Nothing pretty! Fair reward for my lack of effort I'd say.

It gave me a quick fix though, put a bend in the old Avon rod and gave a robin a bit of company (or was it the other way around?!). Total fishing time 2.25 hours. Closed season resumed.

Thankfully the rivers are open again soon. I'm not sure exactly when I'll get off the mark, but I've booked a week off work from the first Monday, so I'm not too bothered about rushing out on the 16th this year. I'll be working that day.

Early season plans are simply to get around different venues (particularly those I've neglected) and to mix it up a bit. Definitely a series of catch anything and everything sessions - no doubt interspersed with the usual blanking. Looking forward to it...

Sunday 13 March 2022

Over and Out

River Blythe - 2.5hrs

Another season draws to a close. For me it hasn't been particularly active due to other commitments, but that's probably meant I've appreciated every session all the more.

My season finale typically ended in a whimper. Thinking back, I honestly can't remember having a red letter day to finish off with. Probably a measure of my general inability to trouble fish!

Another short session was all I could muster and I decided to follow up on the previous week's pioneering visit to a new stretch. This time I'd stretch the legs even further. If nothing else, it would serve as much needed good exercise.

Zilch from the starting swim, ditto from the one I fancied but didn't fish last week and more of the same from the third port of call - which provided the only action last time out. Hmmm! With the clock ticking, blank panic set in.

On to swim 4 and I finally had some interest just as I was checking out the football scores. Coventry hit 4 was the headline and I got as far as seeing the 4-1 scoreline when the rod tip started bouncing around.

A quick strike and a spirited battle ensued. I was quite surprised when it surrendered in front of me that it was only around 3lb. It gave a right old scrap and was a short, chunky fish. 

I tried a couple more casts before heading off to try 2 more swims. A pointless exercise as it turned out in terms of adding to my tally, but I guess it left me closer to the car.

The search for a Blythe five will continue next season...

Hibernation until May is on the agenda.

Monday 7 March 2022


River Blythe - 2hrs.

Another short excursion this week. I very nearly opted for a stab at a local pond for convenience, but my brain kicked in and reminded me there's only one more weekend left. It had to be a river.

The Blythe was the best bet time wise, but with a match using part of the water, I opted for a stretch I hadn't fished before. 

Largely open and lacking in features, it's not as obviously alluring as some waters, but I found myself quite captivated by it. It was just nice to be strolling through pastures new, looking for something that screamed "fish me".

I found a handful of likely swims, but chose to ignore the one I liked most. I'd actually already selected another swim to start from, but I couldn't help wandering further on for a brief look. I'll revisit it when I have more time.

Any concerns of blanking were dispatched first cast. A couple of tentative plucks were met with a hopeful strike and a small meat loving chub was soon on the bank. 

No follow up though, until I decided to start tracing my path back. Reeling in to move on, my chunk of meat was snaffled by something on the retrieve.  The usual suspect revealed itself and was actually my first Blythe pike. A real tiny one this - very similar in size to the chub.

It's food for thought for the future though and maybe there's a decent one lurking somewhere. I'll sleep on that for now.

I tried 3 more swims without a sniff. I remained conscious throughout - which is good form for me.

A pleasant couple of hours in tranquil surroundings, with the place to myself. Lots more to learn and uncover. As Arnie said, I'll be back...

These closed seasons creep up far too quickly for my liking. Hopefully one more brief adventure next week

Sunday 27 February 2022

Close but no Cigar

I'm determined to document all fishing this year, so here's the first catch up covering 3 sessions.

Session 1 - approx 4 hours - River Blythe

A midweek afternoon session that was a 50th birthday treat. I'm not big on birthdays in all honesty and I try to let them slip under the radar whenever possible.

I was booked in to take my uncle to a routine hospital appointment in the morning and work seemed reluctant for me to ply my trade from home in the afternoon. Simple solution - don't do any work at all and go fishing instead! 

I opted for the Blythe for maximum bank time, I wanted to try a section I hadn't fished yet, but I could see a couple of anglers already in the distance, so I gave up on that idea. I like my peace and space!

Plan B saw me head slightly upstream where there was no-one around. That led to cunning plan C. I'd prebait an easily accessible swim, head off further upstream for a couple of hours and then return for a late smash and grab raid.

Furtger upstream offered optimum tranquillity. Just me, a river and a lovely January day (too bright though!). 

5 swims tried. Not a sniff. I nodded off at one point, as is customary for me these days. Time to revisit plan B....

A quick hike back to the car and a couple of minutes up the road - only to find someone plundering my spot! It's always the risk we take, but at least he was blanking! 

And it would remain that way for me. I tried a couple of other swims and actually got into my baited swim briefly at the end. A barren, biteless start to the year.

Session 2 - 1.25 hours - River Leam

This was a very late call on a Sunday afternoon. I siezed the chance to escape the madness of being around the house. Grabbing some pike gear and a few deadbaits, I headed off to the Leam to reacquaint myself with pastures old.

Great to be out, but 75 biteless minutes slipped by quickly and with no time to nod off either. I got what I expected!

Session 3 - approx 2.25 hours - River Blythe 

Another late call for this one. I got a little carried away entertaining my 2 year old in the garden. I was mulling over whether to go for an Avon barbel earlier in the day, but that ship sailed while I was unearthing potatoes long past their best before date.

So, it had to be the Blythe again. I wasn't overly confident though. Bright conditions again and I expected a few others on show, given that it was Saturday, the season end is looming and we'd previously had 3 blustery weekends that would have kept many anglers quiet.

Thankfully I called it wrong. Not a soul around, so I took up the easy option peg. It's a long glide and I'd prime 3 areas with liquidised bread, wait for the sun to drop and then swoop.

Over an hour in and I started to slip into one of my comatosed states, such was the excitement of another potential blank. 

The resident swan family drifted down to me and I decided to play it cool. Nothing to see here. But then one of the young whippersnappers rumbled my banker prebaited area and proceeded to hoover up - ably assisted by 3 siblings and both parents.

I admitted defeat and wandered off to a fresh area. Barely settled into position and my feathered friends thought I was going to provide another meal ticket. A loud expletive was dished out. Utterly wasted, but satisfying nonetheless! 

Brain engaged, I literally lay low out of sight and just let them drift on. There was after all nothing for them to feed on this time. And within a couple of minutes all was clear.

I decided to target a nearside overhanging tree. I'd keep well back from the swim and would be fishing almost below the rod tip.

I wasn't expecting much to be honest and I was just checking out the football scores when the tip steadily pulled down.

Initially it had the madness of a trout, but it dived into nearside cover and revealed itself to be a decent chub. I managed to coax it out though and slipped it into the net. Finally a fish! 

I knew it was a pb shaker and dared to think it might squeak through the 5lb barrier. It was a light meal short though at 4lb 15oz. I'll settle for the pb though and the 5lb challenge can linger on a little longer.

I hung on for a short while as dusk approached, but nothing else doing. Thanks swans for putting me on to that swim! It's all part of the planning!

Wednesday 12 January 2022

Spluttering Along

 A lack of posts in 2021 means that little has changed for me. Family life remains eventful, chaotic, infuriating, rewarding, challenging, frustrating, exhausting and a whole load of other things - some of which I wouldn't dare print! 

All of this means that fishing continues to be on the back burner, but never far from my mind. Starved of time on the bankside, I've still been entertained by blogs and some WhatsApp chit chat / catches that keep me yearning for the next fishing fix. I might not be wetting a line all that often, but I'm certainly spending plenty of time thinking about fishing!

So what happened in the last half of 2021? For starters there were only 19 sessions for me in the whole year, almost all of which were around 3.5 hours or less. I wouldn't have reached 80 hours in total for the year. So, from where I left off on here in June, it's 14 sessions for about 50 hours to cover off. Statistically I must have spent more time in the toilet! 

The perennial quest for a 5lb chub continues. This so far 3 decade long adventure is not exactly something I've pursued with any real vigour. I've kind of figured that it would just happen through a law of averages. Perhaps after 30+ years of trying the accidental approach, it's time to realise that I might need to hatch a plan of a more cunning variety, if I want to get the monkey off my back.

The best managed in 2021 was 4lb 9oz from the small but captivating River Blythe. I acquired a ticket in the previous season and I've still barely scratched the surface of the water available to me. I'm sure I could easily get obsessed with this venue if I had some real time to spare, but I'll settle for a patient approach and take a bold punt that I expect it will finally deliver the elusive 5lb target for me in 2022.  That's bolloxed it for sure!

Time on the Warks Avon was limited to 5 short sessions. Three of those were early season in the middle of the day, just seeking out bites from a few silver fish to while away the time. One short session targeting chub or barbel yielded my only (tiny) whisker of the year. A December predator session on a chilly day proved a little more fruitful with a scraper PB zander of 6lb 1oz. 

Just one visit to the syndicate's pool. Good to see the new stock flourishing and beginning to show up in catches. Hopefully they'll continue to prosper and provide some good sport in years to come. Some excellent work has been done to this previously neglected venue and a huge thanks goes out to all those who have grafted hard to make it happen.

My old adversary, the Anker, has taken a complete back seat. A river that frustrates more than it delights in my experience, but that's all part of the challenge. There's no doubting it holds some fine specimens for those prepared to put the time in. Unfortunately it's the longest journey for me, so with time at a premium, it just hasn't figured. I'm sure I'll be back there in future (the bream will be calling me!) and I've renewed my ticket just in case.

So what's in store for 2022? 

I'm armed with the same number of tickets as usual, so despite me not putting in many appearances in 2021, it's not down to the lack of options! I'm patiently serving my time on a waiting list for a stillwater which I doubt will come to fruition for the 2022 renewal. Therefore it's looking like very little change for me, but given that I have access to waters that I've barely fished all yet, I probably need to start discovering and using more of what I already have. 

There's some new water on my river syndicate that's actually old water to me, having last fished it around 7 years ago. I'm looking forward to giving that a go again and it's encouraging to see it's already thrown up a chub over 4lb. 

The main target for the year is to just get out more again and to stay fit and healthy. Oh, and I'll be hitting the 50 milestone too (I've already put in a request for a new rod to commemorate it!). 

Tuesday 15 June 2021

February to June 15th

With Covid movement restrictions in place, the end of the river season drifted into a non event for me. 

The closed season didn't see much activity either. I attended more Covid vaccinations than I had fishing outings! Just a single trip to a local club water for a few hours. 

A cheeky robin looks on

With lots going on at home and work to distract me, the closed season seemed to drift by with relative ease this year. In the past I'd often spent hours on end preparing tackle and bait, willing the days to roll on by. This time, I'd done literally nothing by June 15th, other than to return all rods and reels into some semblance of organised storage and to purchase the usual range of tickets.

A well earned week off work beckoned to mark the new river season...