Monday, 15 January 2018

Pike & Nash

John Nash, pike fishing by Kurt Hutton (1958) 
As I am on a bit of John Nash thread I thought it worth sharing the wonderful picture of JN fishing for pike. This was taken by Kurt Hutton and the bromide print was formerly in the ownership of Ronald Blythe who then passed it on to the National Portrait Gallery.

The wonderful illustration, below, is by Nash and was also from 1958 - a magnificent study which he was commissioned to deliver for a calendar (Benhams of Colchester - printers & publishers). I make no apologies - I have previously shown the picture on the blog.....I am sure you will forgive me for sharing it again, it's an absolute smasher! 

John Nash, Pike, 1958

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Three cheers for Christmas

The annual Christmas pike social is an eagerly awaited day in my anglers diary - to be honest it is not just about the catching of pike for me, but the joy of being out before Christmas when others are rushing about with last minute preparations. The joy of good company, fine pork pie, mince pies, tea, Christmas spirit and all being well a hip flask of medicinal spirit to keep the chill away.

This year did not disappoint - they never do. Always some drama to make then day memorable and this year there was the added spice of a new stretch of the Stour to fish. I have an obsession with the writings and fishermen of the Victorian age and I like to think old Francis Francis and JW Martin would enjoy these days, so I always think of them on such occasions and raise my bankside glass to them - never forgotten.  

The river looked perfect as it had just fined down after the recent heavy rains. We exchanged cards, presents and stories and it was one of those days when watching the nature around us would have been just enough. The pike had other plans though and it was not until later in the day as the light was starting to fade that our bauble like floats twitched as pike started to search out their festive feast...........we had devoured ours and it was their turn now to seek out the spratts.

Much merriment, landing of fish, the drama of unhooking, admiring, nurturing of such a fine species before being gently returned to their watery Christmas home. The glass of Christmas beer I raised to old Esox was very sweet that evening as I sat in quiet contemplation of a day most generous. Three cheers for old Esox and three cheers for Christmas!

Friday, 1 December 2017

At the time of the gloaming...

It’s a busy time of the year – hard to squeeze in a fishing trip of more than a few hours, so anything is gratefully received. I think they call it being opportunistic. Tackle at the ready and a tub of lobworms to hand. It was just so the other evening.

The Stour is up and down at this time of year, you have to time your trips to perfection…..if you get it wrong you are fishing in chocolate soup, but all the stars were going my way and I arrived with a couple of hours to go before last knockings. The banks were wet and slippery after rain and the wind was up. I knew where I wanted to go as perch were my quarry - I walked with purpose across the fields head down. The wind was biting and thankfully my perchy hole would at least shelter me from its bite.

It never ceases to amaze me that roach love a big lobworm, much more than we give them credit for – I never set out to catch roach on lobworms, but when perch fishing they are the first to take. As the witching hour approaches I am thankful to have caught a few lovely silvery blue darlings of the river.

The light fading and our resident otter makes an appearance and screeches at my outline and is gone. I love them. The fish continue to feed and as the owls start to call in the woods across the river I get that wonderful jaggy sensation as perch takes worm. The wind is deafening, but I feel warm and contented knowing I am the only person here experiencing this joy that is nature…..the sound of nature……..I get back to my car and pour a cup of stewed, sweet flask tea just as the rain makes that wonderful, almost metallic noise as it hits the glass.  

Friday, 24 November 2017

Cerne Abbas - then and now

The Royal Oak, Cerne Abbas - John Piper

The Royal Oak, Cerne Abbas - John Piper

The Royal Oak, Cerne Abbas - 2017

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

If you see someone, tell them that someone is safe

The blog has suffered from radio silence for a while – the dreaded blue screen of death appeared and I thought all was lost. A lifetime digitised and not backed up. I closed the screen and thought that I would have a little sleep and see what happened…….nothing happened so a technical expert was called in whilst I went fishing and forgot about it for weeks.

Success! Normal service resumes…….

I have just returned from a delightful adventure to the River Severn in Shropshire. The annual pilgrimage to a water of my youth is now, hopefully, a permanent fixture in my anglers calendar. I have written about the place before, which sits in a quiet fold of Shropshire cattle countryside, where memories are fond and paths well-trodden. They say never go back, but I think once a year is just enough to keep the old memories alive.

It’s barbel  and chub country and I rarely fished it years ago if the river was anywhere near the level it was on this trip – flood conditions were the time to head to the river and huge lumps of Spam (4 hook baits from one tin) on a size 1 Aberdeen hook. Big bait, big fish.

These days it’s a tad more refined, you have to find fish along a long stretch as the barbel have certainly dispersed and are not there in the numbers we enjoyed back in the 1990’s. The locals blame a few summer floods which wiped out the ranunculus beds which the barbel loved, but who knows……….

The fishing is not important to me really, the joy is friendship. Friends who never change, unlike the river, and have their own lovely ways. For that the trip was memorable and I can’t wait for next year.  

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Looking over my shoulder...

It's that time of the year.......the turning process which makes each season so mystical. A turning time for us too I guess when we do familiar things. For me it's apples, cider, fires and generally preparing for the colder months. This year however my Summer fishing has been extended. The crucians are still feeding and the pond is looking like it will have a few more weeks before they all hunker down for the dark days ahead.

The weather changed dramatically the other evening.....I was just staring at my float, willing it to twitch when I heard Chris shout "it's coming, here it comes" and the wind charged through the trees and brought an absolute deluge with it. Now, I always tell myself that I take too much gear with me on my trips, but I was mighty pleased to have ye olde faithful (my canvas fishing brolly) and a flask of tea as all raged about me. I kept looking up the path, for this place has its strange moments. I had started my MR James short story viewing early this year, the night before in fact, so I half expected to see a dark shadow move through the trees and be gone before I had actually caught sight of it properly.......this time he was there walking towards me through the herbage. Luckily it was Garry reporting he too was fishless and I was thankful it was not Abbot Thomas.