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Archive for July 26th, 2012


I headed to the old Lea today with me old mate Jules, to have a bash at the ‘Green’.  The Lea is hosting some of the Olympic events from Friday onwards and I might add that the roads are already chaotic.

With the temperatures soaring to 30c I was in no rush to get to the river and after a late night in London watching Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths in Neil Simon’s play the Sunshine Boys, which was such a rare treat to see two such superb actors in full flow, I certainly wasn’t going to be going early.  We arrived around 3pm in the sweltering heat.  We wandered along the river, checking out a few swims and found a couple that we both fancied for the evening.

So to start we decided to both have a go at rolling.  I struggled.  The water was unusually coloured and it was difficult to see where the weed was, especially without polarised sunglasses.  So after about 90 minutes and sweating buckets in the blistering heat, I decided to move into my chosen swim a little earlier than expected.

I had picked a swim where shallow water dropped down into a much deeper section.  The swim was only around 3-31/2 feet deep with loads of far bank cover.  Directly above me was a shallow, weedy section.  On a warm evening like this I could envisage the babel heading up to this area to feed…..well hopefully.

So after slowly moving the remainder of the gear into the swim I popped down to Jules’ swim  for a cuppa and a lay down in the shade and waited for the temperatures to abate.  At around 7.30pm I went back to my swim and tackled up.  I opted for an Andrew Witham feeder from cagefeeders.com and plugged some small mixed pellets with a little groundbait.  I fished a couple of large elips pellets on the hair.  I recast every 30 minutes onto the edge of the trees and into an area of smooth water.  As dusk approached I started to get a few knocks and taps and then had a persistent tap, tap, tap.  I decided to strike and it turned out to be a reasonable roach but it fell off near the net.

Darkness soon enveloped us and still nothing had happened.  Just as the light was fading I saw a flash of iridescent blue as a Kingfisher hurtled past.  I think it was in training for the Olympics!  Time was passing quickly and we had decided to call it a day at 10.45pm.  About 10.30 the rod top kicked a bit and then arched violently round.  I was quite taken aback but soon grabbed the rod, which was resting on my chair.  The fish pulled back a little too hard to be anything other than a barbel.  I called down to Jules that I was in.  He came up to net the fish….well hopefully.  At this stage I couldn’t quite decide how big it was but then it turned on the surface and we saw the size of her and she looked a good double.  The fight lasted longer than I thought it would but we soon had her in the net.

On lifting the fish out we both thought it was a mid double.  She was long and looked quite plump.  The scales read 12lb 10oz and although not a PB (although it is from the Lea) was my Olympic gold.  She was stunning.  Long, fin perfect and an absolute stunner.  I took a couple of quick snaps and got her back in the river.  After a few minutes she was fighting strongly in the net to get away and she powered off upstream on her release.

12lb 10oz

12lb 10oz

It makes those blank here all worthwhile when you get a result like that.  Wonderful.

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Yes rumour has it that Tina Turner dedicated this song to Ray Walton and I can well believe it.  Geoff and I headed to the Kennet for the afternoon and evening and I was hoping to try out my latest acquisition:  the new RW rolling pin MKII.

Ray Walton Rolling Pin MKII

Ray Walton Rolling Pin MKII

It was a very pleasant day, overcast and with maybe an outside chance of some rain.  I tackled up the Torrix with the pin which was loaded with 20lb Power Pro braid and tied directly to this was a size 2 Korda hook.  I had molded some extra heavy tungsten putty onto the shank and covered it with some shrink tube.  This would hopefully mean that less plasticine would be required.

So off I went fully of expectancy, the mad fool that I am!  I tried numerous swims and failed in all of them.  For those that haven’t tried this method I shall try and explain.  Basically you put on a large piece of luncheon meat, by simply pushing the hook right through and then turning the hook and pulling it back into the meat.  You then cast upstream and put a large bow into the line.  This means that the bait can then trundle downstream, bouncing along the bottom, in a straight line.  If you keep the line too tight to the bait, it will obviously pull it off line and create an unnatural path down the river.

The beauty of the rolling pin is that you can turn the spool and cast out normally and then return the spool to it’s normal position and keep paying off line.  The idea is that that you feel the meat bouncing along the gravel bottom.  You just keep allowing the pin to turn to give line and allow the bait to travel downstream, under tree and bushes and between weed (if there is any).  If you feel the meat is going through the swim too quickly, then add a little plasticine 5 or 6 inches from the hook to slow its progress down.  Bites are often quite gentle plucks but you’ll know it’s different to the normal gravel bumps that you get.  If in doubt strike and strike hard.

The Kennet

The Kennet

Well as I said after a few bite less hours I decided to move into a swim for the evening.  I had found an area of shallow water but with a deeper margin flanked by reeds and heading upstream to a large bridge.  This seemed a good interception point.  So about 7pm I swung out a feeder and a couple of super glued Elips pellets.  10 minutes later the rod top slammed round and a feisty little barbel fought for freedom on the other end.  It was a nice conditioned fish of about 6lbs.  Thirty minutes later and the rod top did it’s thing again and this time it felt a better fish.  After a good scrap I weighed this one and she went 9lb 1oz on the scales and was a stunning barbel.

9lb 1oz

9lb 1oz

That was pretty much the end of the action for me fish wise at least.  I was treated to a rare sight though.  A barn owl swooped down at the back of my swim, no more that 8 feet or so from me, to grab a mouse.  The only sound I heard was as the owl’s talons as they grabbed at the tall grass.  Then it lifted off silently, empty taloned and worked it’s way along the water line in search of another tasty meal.    I also saw what I think were a pair of plovers in the field behind me.  They walked a bit like an upright pigeon and made a funny sort of call.  Having checked the RSPB book I’m fairly certain they were Plovers.

So, all in all a reasonably successful session.  I will persevere with the meat rolling but it may take some time to become even half decent at it.  Practice is the key.

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The call of the mighty Trent was too strong to ignore and so Geoff and I made arrangements to do a couple of nights.  It’s a bit of a trek from Kent but the rewards and scenery well make up for the distance.  As always we got to see plenty of Goldfinches which just add some really rich and vibrant colour as they dart about, resplendent in their gold plumage.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

Whenever I think of Nottingham, it always reminds me of that great line from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves when the Sheriff of Nottingham (played by the brilliant actor Alan Rickman) says to a young wench “You. My room. 10:30 tonight.” and immediately follows it up to another young wench with “You. 10:45… And bring a friend.”  Brilliant.

The weather forecast was (not surprisingly) mixed; sunny period interspersed with some heavy rain and thunder storms.  That pretty much summed up the whole of the summer so far.  Still undeterred by such things we arrived at the river early evening on the Tuesday.  She was carrying about 3 foot of extra water and looked really good.  We headed upstream and settled on a couple of swims.  After a few bite less hours in what looked a perfect spot, I decided to move lower downstream.  Geoff hadn’t had a bite either and we really couldn’t understand what we were doing wrong.   Just before packing up around 1am my rod finally slammed over and a small barbel of about 5lb was returned safely to fight another day.

So 1 barbel between the two of us was pretty appalling and we both felt rather inadequate.  Quite what we were doing wrong wasn’t glaringly obvious to us, other than maybe we hadn’t found the fish.   So Wednesday we returned after enjoying a rather hearty breakfast at the local farm shop, which had a superb cafe.  This time we opted to fish a little lower down.  I found a few fish, taking four during the afternoon and I moved lower down again early evening and managed a further two from close in on very small pellets.  Six was certainly better than yesterday but far from good.  Geoff still hadn’t managed a fish.

As darkness fell I got chatting to one of the locals who pointed out the error of our ways.  During high water the barbel shoaled up lower downstream leaving much of the upper stretches devoid of fish.  He proved himself right by fishing the evening and catching over 30 barbel.  We decided to try a couple of swims lower down and Geoff managed four and I had three more.

A lesson learned as they say.

The next morning the heavens opened and we had to pack away the tents in heavy rain.  We couldn’t even have an early morning cuppa.  So this is what Hell’s like then…..bugger!

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