What with all the hullabaloo around the eclipse and the thawing out after last knockings(end of the coarse fishing season) I nearly forgot to record one of the high points for me in recent years on the last day, 14th March.
Was it a 2lb roach? Dace of a pound? No, it was two Swallows feeding in front of me for a few all too brief moments before heading up river. It was chuffing freezing - I had moved swims after struggling all morning for three roach. These two early arrivals certainly put a spring in my step and my trot - I just knew I was going to catch.
A move to a glorious trot, a few handfuls of liquidised bread and we were away. It was a roach on every trot through. Murried caggots strike again! Three needed the landing net with the biggest of 1lb 3oz.
A fine end to the season, but the highlight was most certainly those two bluebirds. My diary tells me they were my earliest sighting, not seen any since.
Don't you just love it when intuition tells you to have a peek in a box on a market stall? These were tucked away in a home-made fishing box nestled between some old lead sea weights and rusting pike traces. A perfect green Efgeeco bait tub and Mitchell 300 spare spool in case. A nice pair. As per usual, I gauge my purchases in pints of ale and these two together were about three quarters of a pint thanks to stallholder Corporal Clegg - splendid!
It suddenly got much colder and darker. The rooks and gulls started to circle in great numbers in the sky and the volume dipped like the birds above.
This was the scene before and during this mornings eclipse. All very other worldly and most interesting. I wanted to get to Eggardon, but in the end it was just as enjoyable in the back yard. Normal service has resumed - absolutely glorious sunshine now.
It's always a bit hectic for me at the tail end of the coarse fishing season - I have even more of a desire to go fishing than I normally do.....last gasp effort and all that before the 14th March.
The last couple of weeks have seen me chance my arm at anything and everything on the Stour, Avon and small streams of Wessex including the jewel that is the Ebble. The full range of weather conditions too. Freezing, balmy, cold SE winds, warming spring sun, poachers moon and ice cold rain have made it challenging to say the least.
Some huge fish have been caught as I trundle along just doing my thing - today is seasons end and I will be fishing where I always fish on this day, the lovely Upper Stour. The maggots are ready (curried of course), bread has been liquidised, big tub of lobs and away we go!
Only a short break until it all starts again with the trout and before we know it the mackerel will be in and it will be June 16th as the fisherman's year continues on its watery way.
I come over all unnecessary at the sight of wood, especially stacked wood that may resemble a log pile. My own is managed to the same level of detail as you would expect an architect to draw up plans for a new building or a dry stone waller constructing a new boundary - I absolutely love a pile of wood. I go through phases of building up or supplementing my own log store with foraged wood that I know does not belong to anyone else. No chance here......it does belong to someone else......I was told quite politely to keep my eyes and mitts off it!
I can't take the credit for this one.......but I do now have a little stash of these most delightful brass disgorgers. Big one end and small the other. It even unscrews to reveal a useful knot un-picker or if you happen to fish next to someone irritating you can use it as a prodder.
Believe it or not, these are available in an unlikely high street chain store for under £1.50 each! No tackle bag should be without one.
Absolutely bitter one day with temperatures well below freezing and well up in double figures the next. It has been a weird few months - I have seen bumblebees and honey bees much earlier than ever before and the birds started gathering nesting material weeks ago. I always tend to notice the rooks gathering material first, but this year have noticed many species with beaks full of dog hair, twigs and other "stuff" in readiness for their nest building. The pigeons always seem to think big and go for big twigs they can barely fly away with. The first picture was taken at -5 with a winged assassin trying to warm his wings with the little warmth available from the sun - doubt there was much in the way of food on the coast for him, so no doubt a raid inland to one of the well stocked lakes nearby to piss everyone off. Gig rowers in the background, rather them than me.
Literally a day or so later and this gorgeous Small Tortoiseshell was doing exactly the same in my garden. It gives you such hope that we are coming out of the dark days.
.....than catching fish.Years ago a day without fish, or blanking as it is more commonly known would have bothered me. Not any more. A day riverside is a day to be remembered even if the pike don't bite. They didn't this time, well not as I was expecting. A small jack pike was all I could show for my efforts, but who cares......conditions were far from perfect. Rising levels after heavy rain made for difficult fishing on the Avon. A day roaming in the wilds of Wiltshire is a day well spent. I had my jack early in the day to a new old rod and it all sort of fizzled out after that. The wildlife was spectacular however. A roe deer flushed out of the undergrowth as I crept upstream, snipe everywhere, a flock of 100+ long-tailed tits and cloud formations to die for were more than enough to make the day memorable. The best was yet to come though. I know the peregrines nest a short distance up river in Salisbury Cathedral, as they do at most of the big ecclesiastical establishments, but the sight of a pair hunting around me was a sight to behold. At last knockings I returned to a favoured spot I call whispering reeds and was again treated as three barn owls ghosted the scrub around me and on the other side of the river. You can just make one out in the photo below. A blank day? I don't think so.