Wednesday 30 March 2016

Market Finds No 20

A run of books.You never know what you might come across and these came as a job lot - from the library of a keen pike man and then sold on for profit by a man of the market. No longer needed, but given a good home here at Straker Towers. We all win.

I have not seen the Wolfgang Zeiske book before - with a cover like that I just had to have it! The endpapers are just as looks a lovely read. I won't make you weep at the cost of this little bundle, but no more than two pints of your finest ale. 

Monday 21 March 2016

Monday Madness

I know, I know why is he doing music on a Monday I hear you cry - it's a Friday thing. When I found this running carrot in the veggie bag it sort of reminded me of Stick Man and the Flaming Carrot at the same time...........the perfect soundtrack for our running carrot is of course the mighty Dantalian's Chariot, so here you go, welcome to Monday................


Wednesday 16 March 2016

Seasons end

The last day of the traditional coarse fishing season is just as enjoyable as the opening day. A day to meet up with friends for a social day of fishing, chatter, tea and cake. Just after my last freezing trip to the river it poured with rain and the Stour duly came up and over onto the fields - it was totally unfishable for a few days and the colour of chocolate soup. It came down seven feet in one night just leaving it at the perfect height but still slightly too coloured for the last day. You can't have everything and we hoped our floats would dib at least once or twice.

Of course we still went fishing and had the most splendid day. I fished some glorious glides and had the most enjoyable time with plenty of fin perfect roach and dace for company. The landing net remained dry as they were all roachlings and dacelings but you just never know what is going to come next. Everyone caught - Kev had a few chub on his bread only diet, Merv some roach that did require the landing net and a solitary pike that had a taste for worm, Ferney and Max finally had their perch at last knockings and Demus, Steve and Hedge battled up river, out of the wind, with a good spread of species.

No swallows this year, but for me what really makes this day special is the company - the brotherhood of the angle was alive and kicking on the banks of the Stour..........along with copious amounts of tea and cake of course.   

Monday 14 March 2016

Ace Dace

Old Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway Company gate 

A sneaky late afternoon visit for last knockings. I had a feeling where I would like to be, but Prof's favourite swim is taken by a poacher! He deserves it after a longer drive than me, but I am rewarded again in freezing temperatures. The glide I end up in is one I have not fished for a few years and was possibly designed by Mr Crabtree. I often fish a swim and think how much BV would have liked it and talked so enthusiastically about all of its nooks and crannies. This is such a swim.

The river has been up after the snow and sleet of late and is just coming down, but slightly coloured. The maggots soon lose all feeling and hardly move in my tin, but just enough to land a lovely small bag of dace and a couple of solitary roach from the glide.

My fingers too lose all feeling and I pack up a little earlier than usual as three Little Egrets fly overhead in the clearest of skies. The light disappears very quickly at this time of year, so I am grateful to fellow brother of the angle Hedge who leads the way back up the embankment, along the cinder path and back to civilization. I am so cold I do stop off for a swift libation and a toast to me old mate Prof in what was our regular "stopping off" pub on our way home, The Green Man. Cheers my friend!  

Friday 11 March 2016

The perfect lure

With only a few days left of the traditional coarse fishing season you wouldn't want to miss out on that giant end of season pike would you? You would not fail with one of these in your tackle bag. I know the box says bass, but who cares? It's coloured and shiny with a red end. With a name like that how could you fail?  

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Rustic Roach

I love the tail end of the season. As ever it creeps up on me and I end up trying to squeeze every last ounce out of it until the 14th March. In fact, I probably like it just as much as the start of the coarse fisherman's season, the glorious 16th June.

I have been unable to get near the river for weeks and weeks due to it being in flood and as ever it is around late Feb and early March when it actually becomes fishable again. 

I arrive in glorious sunshine with a coldness that brings the smell of snow on the wind. Another outing for what is now becoming a favourite rod once more, my old Hardy General. Hollow and split cane it's a veritable wizards wand of a rod. The perfect rod for roach on this part of the Stour and more than suitable should a large chub or perch make themselves known.

The light changes every few minutes - these before and after shots (below) all taken within a few minutes.........

....and this is the culprit. A band of sleet, hail and snow which sees the temperature plummet and make everything just wet enough to be a pain. My maggots seize the opportunity to make their escape making the muddy bank look like a disco inferno - I like multi-coloured maggots. I always come close to not bringing a flask of tea, but I am most grateful for a cup of the anglers stewed brew today. Just enough to keep me going.

I am rewarded with a succession of glorious roach, all the size range and year classes along with a few dace and a solitary chub. The float dips at the very spot you expect it to and the gentle plod and thump tells me this is no ordinary roach. My antiquated scales and improvised weigh sling tell me it is nearer to two pounds than one, but who cares at the end of the day - it's a beauty. A clean young looking roach and one that gets the special green ink treatment in my fishing diary.

There is just life enough in my fingers to make one final cast as the sleet comes down again and a goodly perch makes an appearance - it is most welcome and gently returned to his cold and safe home amongst the hawthorne roots.

My journey home is memorable as my route to the river always is - this time the landscape is white with snow and I only just get back to the slightly warmer coastal temperatures of home to a fireside libation and a toast to season's end. 

Monday 7 March 2016

Wakey wakey!

I was just about to do some light maintenance to my trusty steed and found this sleepy Peacock butterfly under the cover - it now resides in the greenhouse until warm enough to venture forth. If he does, he won't be alone. I have spotted a few Red Admiral and Tortoiseshell on the wing this last week. I hope they have read the weather forecast..............getting colder.

Friday 4 March 2016

The Golden Age of Angling

I love looking at some of the delightful old films and footage of yesteryear from British Pathe and the BFI.......with only a week or so of the traditional coarse fishing season left here are some films to get you in the mood. The Kentish Stour film looks like a Golden Scale Club excursion. I especially like the film of Ray Mumford fishing and making floats with his brother Vernon (suitably attired for a fishing trip I must say, splendid jacket Vernon). Watch out for Bernard Venables in the very last film. Settle down and enjoy, pass the port Gramps!

Wednesday 2 March 2016

60 happy customers

I should have posted this yesterday to coincide with St Davids Day but all things are a little on the late side here at Straker Towers. We have just returned from a delightful break in Pembrokeshire - a county I know well and love dearly, but just like Norfolk it takes an age to get there. You think you are almost there and bang! Another few hours to go.

My trusty Shell Guide and Pevsner always accompany me on such trips, nothing has been produced since that even comes close to them. One of the joys of the Shell Guides is doing a modern day comparison with the superb photographs of Edwin Smith or Piper - I am pleased to say that in Pembs not a lot has changed.  

I have not visited St Davids cathedral since I was a child and on this particular day it was absolutely deserted - my mission was to view the 60 heads in the cathedral quire. Now, it didn't help that I had recently watched the utterly brilliant MR James story The Stalls of Barchester........if you know the story you will of course know that carvings form a great part of this chilling tale. I was the only one creeping around the quire. It was dimly lit and the day was dreary - needless to say the carvings were amazing including those of the green man on the stall seats. I looked over my shoulder more than once I can tell you.

They are pristine and probably in the same condition as first carved over 500 years ago. Each about the size of a 50p piece.The majority are of human faces and about twenty are of the grotesque. People or animal? Not sure really, very similar to those stunning stone carvings at Kilpeck where I have lost many an hour in wonderment. The joy for me is wondering just what, who and why?