Thursday, 28 March 2013

Market Finds No 5

Not a true local Straker market find, but one that involved eyes in other corners of this fair land and a price that made it a must have. Found in a dark corner of Essex and soon to be aquainted with the glorious sparkle of the Avon.
With the way this weather is going I am not sure it will be coupled up with my Hardy Walker glass fly rod quite so soon as opening day next week.
Extra layers and logs on the wood burner are still the order of the day and a spring trout seems a long way away. A far cry from this time last year - I got sunburnt!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

My Path to The River

My journey to the river is just as enjoyable as my time spent waterside. An integral part of my day and time to be savoured - my paths to favourite haunts are well trodden and in many ways I carve my route in the landscape as others have done so before me. Usually by foot, but my favourite path is not one that leaves a footprint - It is rare for me to step out of the car until I reach my destination, but through the car window, more often open (even on the coldest day), I am on more than nodding acquaintance with the landscape en route to the river.

Each river has its favoured route, familiar, comforting and welcome as I make my regular pilgrimage - I take great delight with one in particular. This route, at the end of the coarse fisherman's season, I tend to carve more than any other - my pilgrimage to the Dorset Stour.

The landscape is full of antiquity. Familiar landmarks greet me at each turn of the road, but my excitement about the impending day means that I will not stop the car until my return journey home. Then I will stop once or twice to take in the air, listen to the sound of silence and even admire the view of the Jurassic Coast at night. I almost feel part of it now and certainly miss it when I am away - certain locations are in my minds eye when far away from home reminding me of where I come from and what I hold dear.

Most of my routes to the river could be done slightly quicker by keeping to featureless main roads, but the extra few minutes and couple of extra miles do more for the soul than a journey on automatic pilot with the wireless for company. I like the variation and expect the unexpected on these quieter byways.

I am on my way when I turn off the main road and head up past Spyway to Eggardon - here only last week on a freezing snowy day with leaden sky I spotted a white fallow deer (I spotted three today and think they must form part of the large Powerstock Common herd) in one of the dips. A magnificent sight standing like a beacon in the faded winter landscape. Past Eggardon I drop down into Wynford Eagle, past the church of Saint Lawrence and admire the lovely little river which is a tributary of the River Hooke. I do know that Wynford in Celtic is bright stream or white river, but I must try and find out the local name for this clear stream.

Soon I am waving at the Cerne Abbas Giant and marvelling at the Giants Inn (formerly The Red Lion) with its stained glass windows and before long I wend my way through the sleepy North Dorset villages which line my path to Sturminster Newton and journeys end.

It ends far too quickly, just long enough to contemplate the day ahead and the first trot of the float. The shadows of ancient hills my companions now until my return journey home which will be full of expectation - hope of a warming fire and the scent of comfort.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

A worm on one end.......

The last few days of the coarse fisherman's season usually sees a flurry of activity. I am less earnest these days, but certainly pick up speed at both ends of the season. The rivers read like a who's who of piscatorial jewels - Hampshire Avon, Berkshire Kennet, Dorset Stour and Wiltshire Ebble. Just as the start of the season in June, seasons end is a social affair - a time of celebration and a time to fish with friends, eat cake, drink tea and not take the fishing too seriously.

Kennet Grayling
 I am longing for the trout season to begin in April as the weather has been so appalling over the last twelve months. So bad that I have hardly wet a line. The trout season in springtime brings with it hope for the months ahead. The sound of the cuckoo as a backdrop is one of the years highlights. Just a minute, I am getting a bit ahead of myself here, we have the last few days of the traditional fisherman's calendar to deal with.

Kennet Grayling
The weather was positively balmy on the Kennet last week with temperatures into double figures. The river looked perfect for roach as I set up the trotting gear at a stretch I had not fished for twenty three years. In fact I have a particular fondness for this beat as it gave me my first 2lb roach and was where I served my apprenticeship with the centrepin - no roach today, a few grayling, dace and over wintered greedy brown trout followed by a lovely evening in the Dundas Arms with a pint or two of Ramsbury Gold

Berkshire Kennet
The day was made even more special by the visit of an inquisitive stoat, don't see nearly as many as I used to, and the odd Red Kite overhead which are commonplace here. A real treat for a visiting Dorset angler like me, but taken for granted by the locals I guess. I haven't seen a weasel for a long time. Like the stoat they were once both common sights when spending a day by the river.

Wiltshire Yew

The Wiltshire Ebble was next with temperatures dipping and thankfully the float dipping too. A few grayling from the main river and the tiny side stream that took a liking to my left over Kennet curried maggots. After the wettest Wessex year on record I have never seen the river so high which bodes well for the start of the trout season for the Ebble will be where I cast my first fly of 2013. 
Ebble Grayling
The temperatures dipped beyond belief after my Ebble excursion and two trips to the Dorset Stour and Hampshire Avon were deemed to be lunacy by my nearest and dearest. Snow flurries and a morning temperature way below zero even had me questioning my sanity. The wind chill made me wince and give thanks to extra layers and an extra flask of tea. It was even too painful to light the Kelly Kettle which is rare in itself. The main river Avon was far too exposed for my liking, so I sought refuge on the tree lined carriers where I could at least get out of the wind chill. 
Flotsam and Jetsam

Even the maggots were feeling the cold, but amazingly I did manage a small bag of dace and chub which was far more than I expected on a day like this - the sight of a hunting barn owl capped a splendid day and three more were seen through the flecks of snow on my way home, drifting in front of the car windscreen like lost souls in the night. I did not move from the wood burner for a good few hours on getting home and drained the dregs from my flasks before heading wearily to bed.   

Saturday, 9 March 2013


This is a classic example of a book that I bought just for the cover - a market find of the highest quality and on flicking through its pages one to be devoured and enjoyed.

P. Fitzgerald O' Connor looks like my sort of bloke - what adventures he must have had abord his small boat the Cornaig Venture. If ever there was a chap to drink his tea from a tin mug and not give a hoot for burning his lips it's Fitz!

P. Fitzgerald O' Connor
I am slightly ashamed to say the book (1955) is about the hunting of the Basking Shark in Hebridean waters where it was found in the spring and summer. Amazingly this practice was still carried out in the mid 1990's and thankfully the species received full protection in UK waters in 1998.

I can't wait to get stuck into it, but for the time being it remains fourth in line in my reading pile, so for now I will just have to admire its cover and look forward to a full dose of shark fever.