Wednesday 30 November 2016

A very nice find Mr Wilkes

I wrote about a pre Storm Angus trip last week and the local rivers are only just about fishable now. I managed to squeeze a short afternoon on the Stour just before this cold and frosty snap. The weather is up and down like a you know what and recently, what with the ground as dry as a bone, the run off into the river was a sight to see. It came up as quick as anything. Don't get me started on maize crops near the river either, a real beef of mine, which has seen some of my local rivers resemble chocolate soup rather than a river in flood. 

Anyway, this short trip was fruitful - not only did I catch my first river perch of the season, but I also used a new winch. Yes, another market find and one which is very pleasing to the eye and pleasing to use as well.

Bakelite and made by Henry Wilkes & Co Ltd of Studley, Redditch, England - what a name and what an address. Hopefully Mr Wilkes had his workshops on the banks or within sight of that lovely river the Arrow? Who knows, but it spins well, looks good and is a fine match for the Hardy General. It will look even better on my 1946 Hardy General which it will be joining once I can shift myself from the fireside armchair. 

The fishing was slow to start with on trotted maggot using my old Ambidex reel. A nice bag of roach and dace were coming together and all went quiet after catching the perch. As soon as I changed to the Wilkes it was like fishing a different river - lobworm tail was the bait and anchored to the bed using a couple of swan shot resulted in roach after roach and some lovey fish needing the net as well.  

This continued as dusk gathered and the owls called - I packed up and said a hearty thank you to Mr Wilkes as I walked back to the car in an already clear and freezing landscape. Thank you very much indeed.

Friday 25 November 2016

A goodly array of street furniture

Be I Hampshire, be I bu%%ery, I be Isle of Wight! So the ditty goes. I love the IoW and have spent some very happy times there following in the footsteps of Barbara Jones and Pennethorne Hughes. There are treasures around every corner and if, like me, you like furniture of the street type then I am sure you will like these. It was very warm back in August and I seem to recall we also stumbled across the delightful Jolliffe's of Cowes on our way for some superb fish & chips. 

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Between the oak and the beech

These days it's rare for me to have more than one trip specifically after carp in a season. To have had three by late November is unheard of and all three at my favourite haunted pool is something of a rarity - this has not happened since carp fever took a hold in the 1980's.

The traditional June opening was kind to me. The usual frolics and a carp nudging 20lbs was more than I could have hoped for. The fish was caught within three feet of the bank and included a fight full of drama. I haven't used anything other than a float for bite indication for many years now, but on this occasion no float was required. I watched the fish come in to view like a ghost, take the bait, look confused as something was not quite right with this fishy offering of a cockle and then all hell broke loose. The great "BB" once said catching a carp feels like being pulled out of bed in the early hours from a deep sleep by a large grappling iron. How right he was.

I returned in September for a short day trip. It was freezing, I was freezing and thankful for winter apparel of hat, scarf and mitts - nothing stirred. The journey home was memorable following a huge blue moon..........the pool was starting to take a hold on me again, just like it had done many years ago. I kept dreaming of it.

In the days that followed I found my mind wandering. I wandered the fisherman's path I know so well. A tortuous path. I peeped into gaps I have known and fished since my late teens and pictured some of the delights I may encounter.

I had to return. Return before the leaves of autumn disappeared for another year as they always have done and always will do. They were just hanging on as the weather has meant we have enjoyed a fine display this year and The Wizards Cauldron surely has the finest display I know.

A late autumn trip to take in the view would be enough to keep me going through the darkest days that winter has to offer and maybe, just maybe, a fish would feed.

I always travel light and each nook and cranny fished has the most amazing variety of trees all within a rod length or two from where I sit.

The Pulpit has oak, beech, holly, sallow, birch and ash. I can also see an elm and just beyond is a chestnut which drops leaves as big as badminton rackets.

When here I dream and contemplate like I do nowhere else. It is like fishing on the edge of the world, the world hardly exists as this bubble where the nuthatch and bullfinch are the only thing that take me away from my thoughts. It casts its spell again.

The fishing is hard. It always is. Every weather pattern hits this corner of nowhere during my couple of days here sitting in the leaf litter. I move often, tread and creep lightly around the pool and bait lightly. Thoughts of returning home to the roast dinner I know will be in the oven and a welcoming lit stove mean I am in last cast territory.

The pandemonium and sheer exhilaration of my final hour is something only an angler is ever aware of and can appreciate. Three lost fish meant my final casts were frequent and they finally led to two bars of autumn gold. Fish here are hard to tempt, so my two of 17lbs and 16lbs are prized and treasured. Each burst of activity, mumbled curses and gasps of joy shatter the backdrop of quiet that surrounds this place. It leaves me shaking and my heart pumping - grappling irons and the words of "BB" are never far away from me.

I walk the fisherman's path in the gathering darkness with a tawny, rook and raven soundtrack and head for home. A few days later Storm Angus will have dropped every leaf around that hallowed pool. It will now look dark, brooding and black - almost a different place.

As I sit beside the fire telling tales of a mystical pool in a lost landscape to my loved ones I think maybe I'll have one more trip there before seasons end. Just one more.