For the first time in three years …

I’ve bought a rod licence again!

Now, I’m not promising anything, or putting any timescales on things, but it’s a start.

I’m still living vicariously through the other fishing blogs I follow and would love it if the regular and not so regular posters reading this could/might re-post their favourite old post of theirs (for whatever reason that might be – either your ‘best’ or most memorable session, or your favourite just from a composition point of view).

Look forward to seeing your re-posts. Have at it, I’ll be back…soon


They’re Back!

Sunday 29th August 8pm BBC2

Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing – a Review

So while there is currently no imminent danger of me gracing the bank myself , I’ve decided, instead of reporting on what would no doubt have been a gloriously fruitful fishing session anyway 😆 , to share a brief review of what is currently in my opinion, one of the most magically crafted 30 minutes of television the BBC have possibly ever created. I’m currently watching Series 3 with absolute glee and would personally liken it to an Indian Head massage for the soul.

You don’t need to love fishing to appreciate ‘Gone Fishing’s’ simple beauty. Perhaps just an appreciation of Britain’s breathtaking countryside and waterways, or a warm affinity with a colourful camaraderie between two old friends. Failing that, just a gentle soul should suffice.

Granted, it won’t be absolutely everyone’s flask of tea , and perhaps if you are under the age of 20, have never fished, and are also completely unfamiliar with the not insignificant respective back catalogue of the programme’s two protagonists within the arena of comedy and entertainment, then indeed, it may not catch your attention enough for you to allow yourself to fall under its charm. But, as I swear I’ve heard somewhere before, the programme is not really about catching fish.

“Look to your health; and if you have it, praise God and value it next to conscience; for health is the second blessing that we mortals are capable of, a blessing money can’t buy.” – Izaak Walton

The series (now in it’s third season) started out for the two friends, as a vehicle for them to compare and share their life changing experiences, stemming from a pivotal time in their lives when, within a few years of each other, both underwent a series of major surgeries due to heart related illnesses.

Many of the filming locations are a wistful trip down memory lane, revisiting childhood haunts, primarily for Paul (the true, seasoned angler and long-suffering mentor to Bob and his child-like exuberance in his eagerness to learn more about the pastime and the different fish they pursue each week). Bob’s role, in addition to instigating some of the more irreverent banter and providing regular pratfalls, is the organising of the couple’s (usually highly varied and often unconventional) nightly accommodation and accompanying culinary creations.

What Mortimer, Whitehouse and the production crew have actually created is a wonderfully picturesque bromantic field trip, while all-too-fleetingly tackling topics from the puerile to the profound, but both with equal measures of rigour and candour.

The show is like a real life ‘Detectorists’, but where the hidden bounties they are attempting to uncover are not just their elusive piscine quarry but perhaps the slightly more intangible answers to the age-old questions surrounding life, love, loss and our own mortality.

Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing – available on BBC 2 i-player

All work and no play

6/3/20 – nearly eight months away from the bank.

So the house move went pretty smoothly in the end despite being a colossal undertaking involving downsizing from a five bedroomed, double garaged house on three floors, to a two bedroomed bungalow with a single garage, hence why all my fishing gear is currently residing at someone else’s house.

You would not believe the amount of ‘stuff’ we’d accumulated over the last 13 years and it took some pretty ruthless life laundry to even stand a chance of making it work. (Three overflowing skip loads to be precise.)

Aside from the move, work has also been manic, but along with the usual bread and butter jobs, the occasional treat does pop up –

Van wrap for Spotted Fin
On it like a car bonnet

Got the chance to design and install the graphics on Spotted Fin’s new van. They’re a great bunch of guys and things have really taken off in a big way for them over the last few years. If you’ve been to any shows recently, you’ll no doubt have seen them selling out of everything.

Grab some of their new Classic Corn boilies which are really tearing things up at the mo. I’ll defo be giving them a go (if I ever get a spare minute again)


A bird in the hand

14/7/19 – Kirton Hall Lake

My second trip in 9 months! I toyed with the idea of a potentially fruitless ‘Monster Carp’ hunt, but when you’ve been away from the bank this long, sometimes you just need a dead cert to ease you back into things. Aside from that, a house-move on the not so distant horizon means that funds are tight and as I’ve already paid membership for Kirton, well … you do the math.

Despite a fairly late start (9am arrival) I discovered one of my favourite swims (peg 6) was still free. Result. It was a warm day and pressure was fairly high, but this is the shallow end of the lake and i was determined to catch off the bottom today, as it seems like a lifetime since regular tactics have paid off, so i just needed to prove to myself that i haven’t completely lost my touch. Both rods were started on the deck. One to the pads (in the swim to my left) and the other to the far reed line.

Half hour passed before the first bite from the pads, which resulted in a snapped hook link. Soon after that, the swim was taken so i moved both rods to the far reeds. I lost another fish on the right hand rod and then decided to try the floater rod for a while, as they had started taking some freebies. It proved hard work though due to the bird activity today – a full compliment of ducks, moorhen, coots & gulls, all trying (and managing) to beat the fish to it. So I persevered on and off, switching between surface and bottom tactics.

It seemed like the surrounding pegs were also quiet but the silence was finally broken at about 2.45 with a hard-fighting fish from the far reeds. The noise attracted the angler to my left who thankfully was able to help untwist both rods (as i some how allowed the fish to go under my other line close in, despite having back leads on) and we performed the maypole-style rod dance to free things up. Once the fish was in the net and the second rod back on the pod, the second alarm started chirping. Too much to be the rig re-settling I couldn’t ignore it and lifted into … something anyway, and as long as it takes to wind a rig straight in, a 1.5 lb bream dangled above the water. I unhooked in hand and went straight back to the carp in the landing net.

It went 11lbs and thanks to my fellow fisherman for the photo. Good to know my bottom rigs do still work.

Action was slow after that. I pressed on with trying to work the surface on & off and after fowl play had died down a bit i whacked out a few bread crust casts, finally resulting in a last minute take and a 9lb common, the speed of which I’ve never seen before. I mean, it was ridiculous. One minute it was out on the surface in front of me, and within a second it was in the next swim!

Great fun.

And to round off again, another pheasant arrived for a feed.

Happy days.

Tight lines people.

I’m back baby!

Kirton Hall Lake – 11/6/19

It’s been exactly eight months since my last trip. Eight months! Fucking ridiculous. Not by choice i should add. An ‘imperfect’ storm of work and personal commitments. I think it’s safe to say that there’s no time as slow as that between fishing trips.

Back to the job in hand. Facebook page posts weren’t saying anything so i was praying that the carp had finished spawning as the prospect of wasting my first outing in 8 months didn’t bear thinking about. Upon arrival, bankside reports confirmed they were all done but unfortunately the peg i was hoping for today was taken.

I settled halfway along the lake where there seemed to be plenty of fizzing plus a few fish cruising on the surface. On my last few trips here I’ve struggled to catch off the bottom and today I couldn’t risk blanking so it was one rod on the deck and the other would be on top with dog biscuits. I baited up an area and started the bottom rig about halfway across but conditions dictated that the fish were probably all in the top half of the water column. If i was sensible and more disciplined/organised, then i would have changed to some sort of zig, but that’s not the way i roll.

I later moved this rig to two more ‘squeaky-bum-pin-point-perfection-casting-long-distance-far-margin-spots’ before the sesh was over, but none of them produced even a knock. The surface was where it was at for me today. I kept the floaters going in to the left of me covering a reasonably large area, as the fish were constantly on the move, and i just waited till an area was busy with a few fish before introducing the hookbait. It was hard work battling with old dog biscuits which seemed to only keep their buoyancy for about two mins plus the fish seemed wise of a squared-off brown pop-up so i was having to use and constantly replace hair-rigged biscuits. I might have to invest in a fake dog biscuit or use some king of cork insert (any tips welcome).

Nevertheless i managed to land six fish and lose two. All ranged between about 7 & 10 pounds. I started off trying to take timered selfies but gave up after seeing that the photo of the second fish (& obviously the biggest) was utter shit.

As is normally the case with me when surface fishing, i barely sat down all day, but the rain held off and it was absolute heaven just to be back bankside again.

As an extra little treat, just as i was packing up (after about a dozen ‘last casts’), i had a visit from this confident little fellow. What a perfect return it was and I look forward to being able to do the same again very soon.

As they say – “A bird in the hand… “

A record of a year.

Well that’s it then. Another year over and what a strange year of stats it has been –

A disgraceful 10x fishing trips

3x of them overnighters

A pathetic 9x blog posts

4x (carp) blank sessions

42x carp in total (over the 6x successful trips)

& 1x new pb !

Happy New Year to you all.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing your own individual adventures.

I wish you all the best of luck for 2019

Beauty and the beasts

20/10/18 – Kirton Hall Lake

This session was almost a month ago now but it certainly deserves a post. Unfortunately, work commitments have ruined weekend plans and the opportunity to get bankside again seems a long way off currently, which is incredibly frustrating because the weather is unseasonaly tempting.

The session in question was no different and I’ll go so far as to say it was possibly the most beautiful session at Kirton i have ever had the joy of experiencing. The autumn colours were simply breathtaking and the sky was a fantastic blue. An incredible feast for the soul.

I started with both rods on the deck, but went to work immediately trying to get the fish feeding off the top, which as it turned out, was the way to go, as nothing was doing down below and the pressure was up at around the 1030mb mark (which i wasn’t aware of till a passing angler pointed it out)

As you can see, the surface tactics certainly paid off, with all fish ranging between 9 and 14 pounds. A mixture of beautiful Kirton mirrors and commons, all with plenty of fight.

And so on to the Beasts.

For me Kirton really is about the whole immersive being one with nature experience, and more often than not, alongside the plethora of feathered friends, bugs and insects, as with most other fisheries, the flora and fauna will include a rat or two.

They say that you’re never more than 10 feet away from a rat. Recently at Kirton, I would say you’re never more than a foot away from ten rats. Ten friendly rats.

For me, it’s all nature, even if populations have been slightly skewed by the intervention of man, and I was entertained by their swimming and foraging all day. Then, mid afternoon, the Loch Ness monster arrived.

I have never seen one in the wild before so it was a precious experience. An experience slightly tainted with the obvious concern for the immediate impact on the fishery.

Till next time.


The rise and fall.

Fri 24/8/18 – Sat 25/8/18, Hintlesham

Plans were made for an early exit from work and a repeat performance of last weekend’s milestone success. Everything was following the script to the letter (apart from the addition of having to administer an injection to a cat), right up to the point where i get to the lake and realise that there are only two swims remaining. No sweat. The lake was clearly on fire, with fish already coming out left, right and centre. Any peg was bound to produce. I was right in the middle of eeny, meeny when as if by magic, the shop keeper appeared to say that they were both booked and would very shortly be occupied. I couldn’t believe it. How short-sighted was i, not to have booked ahead on a Bank Holiday weekend at the peak of the season. Something Phil the shopkeeper/lake owner was also quite eager to point out. I think i might have been able to kick myself harder, had i been able to take a run up. The predator lake had some spaces though. Fuck!

The predator lake contains a good head of sizeable pike, some very large cats and some carp, plus the lake itself, situated on top of a hill and with it’s blue/green water, looks about as man-made as they come. I was just about as moody as the sky.

The wind and rain then arrived so I sat in my cave and sulked for a bit. Once the rain had eased and I’d got my head round the whole situation, i finally got the rods out, opting for the least cat-friendly bait option (Mainline cell). The prospect of catching my first Moggy (potentially up to 70lb), in the middle of a dark, wet night, frankly put the shits up me.

My alarm receiver remained silent through the night, and the constant chorus of alarms from the lake below rubbed sufficient salt into the wound to send me stropping off to sleep.

Daylight improved both my attitude and my bravery so i switched to Sticky Krill boilies on both rods to try and tempt anything that would bite.

I tried my hardest i have to say. Moving the rods every hour, but not being familiar with the lake and with the only signs of life being the occasional pike smashing up the surface fry, i was getting absolutely no feedback to work on. And that was the story of the day.

Hero to zero.

But believe me, i won’t be making the same mistake again.

Book you next time.

…those who wait

17/8/18 – 18/8/18 Hintlesham Specimen Lake

Friday night 6pm and I’m still at work, blissfully unaware that a surprise overnighter is on the cards, but a text to my wife suggesting a cheeky trip to the cinema is rebuffed with an ‘out of the blue’ offer that rather than fish tomorrow, i get my shit together and go tonight instead.

I’m on my way home!

I break out the ‘Overnighter check list’ and just throw it all in the van.

A quick call to my nemesis Suffolk Waterpark, revealed that the gates were closing any minute, ruling out another guaranteed blank. Never mind. Hintlesham was my next nearest option, and has always looked after me in the past. I made the lake by 7.30pm. Still plenty of daylight left.

I’ve always fished the far side with access to the gravel bar but the far side was pretty busy and as the lake seemed alive all over, and with time tight, i opted for a near side swim and something different.

For the night i had one rod close to the overhanging bushes directly opposite, where the lake narrows, and the other one near the pads to the right where the fish were bubbling.

Pitch perfect. Everything in it’s place and no need to make two trips with the barrow.

For once, the night passed without a single bleep, so I actually managed to get some sleep. I was up at 5am next morning moving the rods, both closer to the pads with a scattering of boilies around each. If I’m honest, i wasn’t really happy with their positioning, but as usual, i just sat it out for a couple of hours before deciding to change again. This time though, both rods landed smack bang in between each set of pads, and i felt instantly positive. You know that feeling when the rig lands exactly where you wanted it to, and you just say to yourself “that’s a bite right there”.

The danger then became the risk of losing a fish to the pads. Normally I’d tighten the freespool right up so they had nowhere to go, but with the rod pod precariously perched on the staging and no means of locking it down, i decided to give the freespool some movement, rather than wave goodbye to the whole lot. This meant being ready to pounce at the first beep, and sure enough, within 5 minutes, i needed to pounce. After a heavy connection and a thumping battle to try and prevent the fish finding the pads, the hook pulled (i thought).

Upon closer inspection though, the hook had actually snapped!

I was right in the middle of attaching a new link in order to get the rod straight out again and before I’d finished the other rod was off.

As they say – Location, location, location.

A hard fighting common finally made its way into the net and i breathed a sigh of relief, happy that I’d avoided the dreaded blank.

10.5lb common

The next couple of hours were quiet and i assumed that the two struggles had cleared each area.

I re-cast and rebaited around both rods again and yet again, within 5 minutes the left hand rod screamed off and i was again struggling to steer it through the pads. As it came towards me i could see it had clearly brought some of the pads with it, adding to the hefty resistance, but when the fish surfaced i could see it was big. My mind raced and then i immediately started to worry that i was about to lose a new pb, but somehow i managed to steer the fish and thread it through the trailing lily. For some reason I decided to net it myself despite offers of help, and then instantly regretted my choice when the fish refused my first net lunge and disappeared once again into the depths. Second chance came around though and i made it count. One look at it in the net and i knew I’d done it.

23lb exactly on the scales, but i hadn’t zeroed with the net so less 2lb 3oz and we have a new pb of 20lb 13oz (previous best an 18lb 12oz common, Jun 2015) so a long time coming, but well worth the wait.

As it says on the tin, it’s SO not about catching fish, but sometimes it so is.