Wednesday 29 March 2017

Market Finds No 23

"to remind you of the sport we both love so well" - what fine words indeed by the Skipper, fine roach man of the Hampshire Avon, Captain LA Parker. I know the coarse fishing season is now over and we bimble towards the opening of the trout season down here in Wessex (this weekend), but a recent market find needed recording.

I was lucky, some years ago, to purchase a signed copy of his fine book "This Fishing or Angling Arts and Artifices" which details his time angling for roach around Downton, Breamore and Fordingbridge from his base at The Bull Hotel in Downton (now a shadow of its former self I might add). This went very nicely with my old Bull Hotel fishing tie that does get an occasional airing by the river on special roach days!

More recently I managed to purchase a later edition of the book which has a lovely picture of The Skipper on the cover - what a fine and happy fellow he looks. A fine market find indeed.  

Monday 27 March 2017

Fossil Findings

Now the coarse fishing season is over I do like to have a break before getting the fly rods out and there is nothing better than poking about on the beach for findings. The book you see above was a market finding and a very cheap one at that - who could resist such a cover? The art very similar to that in some of the Shell naturalist guides and classroom posters - I like it very much.

I have not had too much too much in the way of fossil finds these last few weeks - not enough rough seas to make them easier to find or, most likely, I am getting beaten by the "early morning" hunters who get there before me and find the treasure. Good luck to them, they deserve it! It is enjoyable to see some of the more exposed rocks that have fossils within - some of them are huge and you would need a tractor to get them home - best left where they are I say.

Monday 20 March 2017

Chocolate soup for diabetics

To say the last few days of the traditional coarse fishing season were not as expected and hoped for is an understatement. The river had been out of sorts. It comes up quickly once the ground is sodden and the multitude of streams which enter its upper reaches make it react quickly. All sorts of Plan B locations were being discussed as a localised downpour put it up and over the banks for the last weekend of the season.

I still went for the last two days - I could not bring myself to fish still waters for these last two days. The river was the colour of weak chocolate - nearer Caramac. The temperature rose and it was shirtsleeve weather with poached feet in wellie boots - what's going on? Bumblebees, butterflies and sand martins made it seem not quite seasons end.

One visitor I was not pleased to see was that little bastard the Blandford Fly - the ale of the same name is alright I suppose, but this biting little critter made an unwelcome early appearance on both days.  

The river actually fished alright, slowly, but just enough interest in the baited slacks of the river out of the main flow to catch a goodly bag of roach, dace and gudgeon. What lovely gudgeon they were - I lost count of how many of the greedy fellows I caught and am always flabbergasted to hear some of the old timers actually speak of eating them, how could they! 

I am having a love affair with some of my lightly used Ambidex reels at the moment - they don't get used as often as I would like, but with a switch to a static bait on the bottom of the river it felt the right reel to use. I love the gawdy blue hues of these reels and the bakelite fittings.

A stroll downstream to see how the rest of our gather were faring, with the added hope of cake and tea, and I was overjoyed to see some river debris in the form of someones Christmas lights half way up a willow - lovely.

It was more of the same for day two - the river was still not in the best of condition and bites were much harder to get, but the company was splendid, tea magnificent and cake orgasmic. As the light faded from the day I had my last cast and the tiniest tremble resulted in that hoped for thud and lunge of a large roach. A huge roach. A giant roach. A Stour roach like this has been in my dreams for many years, but it was only to be the tale of the one that got away in the pub that evening..............another season ends and dreams, sometimes, maybe one day will become reality.  

Friday 10 March 2017

Friday Ditty pt 30

These are a reflection of what I am listening to at this moment in time - the mighty Stanley Holloway is never far it loud!

Wednesday 8 March 2017

The well trodden path

The path is a treacherous winding fisherman's path - lightly carved into this ancient Neolithic landscape. It is high and oversees the dark expanse of water below it at one moment and it takes a turn the next so you are inches from the water where one slip would see you fall into eight feet of freezing inky blackness.  

They say it is good to experience places you love in all the seasons and therefore experience their moods both good and bad. I have done so here for a large chunk of my life, I could walk its banks blindfolded and find my way around, but it still catches me out - that is why I always return. 

How I come to be sitting by a remote carp pool of antiquity in freezing rain at the tail end of the coarse fishing season is a question I am asking myself as I stare longingly at my orange tipped float.

A whim trip - away from the outside world for a few days with all its baggage left behind is good for the contemplative anglers soul.

The rivers are bank full, so if I am to idle my time anywhere then I can think of no better place than here at the Wizard's Cauldron.

For once I am pleased my battered canvas Efgeeco brolly is with me along with a large flask of tea. I am also fortunate that "you know who" from down the lane is away elsewhere. It is challenging enough getting here anyway without that old bastard putting an enormous spanner in the works for the last few hundred yards of my journey......not this time. 

A carpet of curried maggots is on the silty leaf strewn bed and the soundtrack of rook, raven and buzzard add to the general gloom around me. I sit in years of accumulated leaf litter, sheltered in this hollow as the storm brews ever stronger and louder............I watch my float and wait.  

Monday 6 March 2017

A Return to Nash

It was with some excitement that I joined my friends Chris and Demus for a visit to see the superb Paul Nash exhibition at Tate Britain just before it closed yesterday. It was in fact my second visit and regular visitors here will no doubt be aware of my liking for Nash. 

The exhibition just blew me away - I was quite overwhelmed the first time, but on this second visit I was able to take it all in and let it flow over me. We had a fine leisurely lunch and a couple of pints before taking it all in and what a selection of his art - will there be another showing like this in my lifetime? I am not so sure. What I found incredible were that there were so many examples of his work I had just not seen before - from private collections of course, but what a joy to see them!

I thought the section on surrealism shone through - how so much ephemera and examples of his collage have survived is something we must give thanks for and what a sight to behold. Complimentary work by Eileen Agar, Ben Nicholson and Tristram Hillier as part of the Unit One group that was led by Nash were quite wonderful. 

As you can probably tell, it left an impression. Nash does all the time with me and I really love it that I keep finding little nuggets that are new to me - who wants to know everything in one hit? Not I. Long may I continue to stumble upon more gems by this lover of seaside surrealism.       

Paul Nash by Tom Studdard (Manchester Guardian & Evening News)

Paul Nash - Swanage (collage) 1936

Paul Nash - Pimlico Sands, River Severn

Paul Nash - Forest (1936-37)

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Record Breakers?

Hardly! The roach you see here were about as big as they got, but who cares. They are delightful and show what fine fettle the river is in as they cover all the year classes and sometimes, just sometimes you may get lucky and catch the roach of your dreams.

It was an opportunity for me to use a recent market find - the Allcock Record Breaker reel would look much more at home on the rod of the same name, but coupled with my 1950's Hardy General it looked just the ticket.

Not a free running trotting reel, it needed more than a helping hand to trot my River Stour glide, but enjoyable all the same. 

I was joined at the river by Chris and Merv and a very welcome gather it was too. By nature I am a solitary angler, but these last few weeks of the season usually involve fishing with friends which make them a much looked forward to season in my anglers calendar - Chris nabbed hooks and bait from Merv and I a float - this is pretty much how it goes these days. One of us usually forgets something and all being well the more organised among us has what we are after. Thanks Merv! 

A glorious late afternoon that chilled quickly at last knockings saw a slow, but steady trickle of roachlings, chublings and dace come to my float fished curried maggots. As has been the norm over the last few weeks the scene was sound tracked by the most wonderful bird song - song thrush and blackbird singing in perfect harmony. 

I was for once grateful of a thick jumper but annoyed at forgetting fingerless gloves and a flask. These early days of bright spring flowers can catch you out. Slight warmth by day and quickly chilling as the afternoon wends its way into evening.

There aren't many days left now before the season closes on March 14th, but each trip will be eagerly expected just as we do for the glorious opening on the 16th June - we anglers are lucky, not only to fish in such wonderful landscapes, but it brings out the little boy in us all, the feeling you get before Christmas and long may it continue.  

We trudged back to the cars as darkness quickly descended, sharing our tales of fish caught and plans for the last two weeks of the season, but as always ever grateful for what the river has given us..........and Merv of course for floats, bait and hooks!