Monday, 9 October 2017

Riding The Wave

" I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion "

Henry David Thoreau

I headed off to the estuary bait digging, as me and Conc were off to Dorset for a couple of days fishing. Despite a piddly little tide I managed a good number of ragworm and just as low water approached I stopped digging. I had bought along the spinning rod along, as I'd hoped to have an hour after a bass or two.

The strong westerly wind had coloured up the water quite badly, but I thought I'd have a go anyway. I'd only been fishing ten minutes when the water erupted as a bass hit the surface lure. The rod hooped over and it was clear this was bigger than the little schoolies I've been having of late. After a short but spirited fight a cracking bass in pristine condition was beached.

Best one I've had this year, well over 4lb I guess. That'll do nicely.

Me and Conc set off early Thursday morning. I pointed the camper towards the south west and off it chugged. We arrived at the shingle with a stiff north westerly blowing. Not perfect but fishable. We had bites from the first cast, most missed, we guessed these were black bream as they can be difficult to hook. Conc was quickly off the mark with a barbeque sized fish around the pound mark. I hooked into what I thought was a big bream, but turned out to be a smoothound.

Soon after I had my first bream, followed by the inevitable dogfish and, even worse, tiny congers. Final scores, Conc five bream including a corker of 2lb, doggies and conger. Me, two bream, two smoothies, dogs and conger.

Either wear a hat or change that hair cut

After a half hour trudge across the shingle back to the camper we pigged out on curry and Belguim beer before crashing out.

I woke early and opened the camper door. The wind had dropped and I made the short walk over the top of the shingle bank to see that the sea had calmed right down. Lovely.

We went back to the same spot and first cast I was in to a nice bream. Then another. Lots of bites, some hit, some missed, but bites every cast anyway.

Conc was getting bites but the only ones he was making contact with were dogs. I continued to catch bream and then set the float rod up to try for the garfish. We took it in turns with the float rod, there were loads of them, great fun.

As the tide turned the bottom rods went quiet. I was still getting a few bream, but Conc remained breamless.

We were sitting in the sunshine in T shirts in October, milking the last of the warm weather for all it was worth. A beautiful day, the Isle of Portland to the east and the red cliffs of Devon to the west clearly visible in the distance. We were lucky to be there and we knew it.

Late in the day I managed a cracking plaice, a welcome surprise.

Conc ended up with one bream, nine gars and lots and lots of dogs, plus a couple of hideous tiny conger. I had eleven bream, a plaice, ten gars and a few dogs. The Concmeister took a deserved thrashing, revenge for when he hammered me 26-6 on the plaice in Brighton earlier this year. He took the piss taking well, but he would, he's a fine fellow.

A most enjoyable couple of days.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Even Better

" I believe in luck. How else can you explain the success of those you dislike "

Jean Cocteau

Sunday morning I went down the river to see if the mullet were still about. Poked my head over the bridge and saw two more blokes fishing my spot and unhooking what looked like a small bass.
The mullet were a bit further upstream as usual, on the shallows, so I got my fly gear and started drifting the fly over the fish, which were very active, flashing and dashing about. After twenty minutes I had a take and felt the fish thumping. A few seconds later it was off and the air turned blue.

The fish seemed to disappear and I started walking back to the car, but stopped and had a chat with the other two blokes who were also trying for the mullet without success. They packed up and as they did I looked over the bridge and saw the fish were back. Just give it five minutes I thought.

On the second cast the line pulled tight and as I pulled the hook home a big mullet rocketed off at high speed, the fly line zipping through my fingers as the fish headed for the bridge supports. Luckily it turned and shot off upstream. I had absolutely no control over it, but as the fish came close to the bank I managed to beach it on the mud. A real beast of a mullet, victory from the jaws of defeat. Well pleased again.

After all that commotion, the rest of the fish really had moved on, so I thought I'd have a look at another stretch a minute or two away. I crept down the steep bank and on to the mud and was greeted with the sight of dozens of mullet splashing and moving across the shallows. Definitely the biggest shoal I've seen this year. There were bloody loads of them. It was a dead cert I'd get another.

Of course, I didn't. I couldn't get a touch.

One more cast and as soon as the line hit the water a fish launched itself at the fly. I tightened into it and as I did so, the fish tailwalked and repeatedly jumped out of the water. This continued as the it  came closer to me. It had spots. Not a mullet, a beautifully marked sea trout, my first ever.

Two cracking fish, another great session.
The universe works in crazy ways. Your good luck will come in waves, and so does your bad, so you have to take the good with the bad and press forward. Nick Cummins
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The universe works in crazy ways. Your good luck will come in waves, and so does your bad, so you have to take the good with the bad and press forward. Nick Cummins
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Thursday, 28 September 2017


"What's money? A man is a success if he gets up and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants"

Bob Dylan

Hail His Bobness . Did I ever mention that he shares a birthday with me ? We're birds of a feather, me and Bob.

I've hardly been bassing this year. Lots of small fish ( too small for the nets ) and not much else of any size. Very, very poor.

Sunday I decided to give it a quick go, as it was a glorious morning. I walked down the stony track, across the mudflats and onto the bar and looked at the water. Clearish, but colouring up quickly, due to a freshening easterly wind. Not brilliant.

I'd been fishing without success for about twenty minutes when I changed lures. First cast and the water erupted as a schoolie crashed into the popper on the surface. Not a big one but fun nevertheless.

Another ten minutes and the water was too coloured and I was off to the next mark to try for a mullet. Imagine my surprise when I got there and someone else was fishing. I was outraged. How dare they ? I did notice, though, that he was spinning and quickly got hooked up on the snags where most of the fish were. It's inches deep and impossible to use a spinner without getting snagged. He moved down to the deeper water and I moved into his vacated spot.

I'd only been fishing five minutes and as the fly passed over the shallows the line tightened. I pulled hard on the fly line to set the hook and, would you feckin' believe it, I was into a mullet. I still can't believe I can ( sometimes ) catch them on the fly. I think it goes back to when I was a kid and we used to watch them in their thousands in Alresford creek. We all tried and failed to catch even one of them.

Despite catching one almost straight away there were few fish about so I left feeling smug and celebrated at lunchtime at the local Italian restaurant. Calzone pizza with chillis, rocket, spicy sausage and mozzarella, followed by affogato. Wunderbar.

I decided I'd go for the "Essex Grand Slam" ( bass/mullet/pike in the same day on lure/fly ), so after lunch headed off to complete it with the easiest one of the three. Obviously, I failed.

That's what happens when you get too cocky.

What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do. Bob Dylan
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What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do. Bob Dylan
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Saturday, 23 September 2017

Old Albion, There's Nowhere Finer

" Plans are nothing. Planning is everything "

Dwight D Eisenhower

Dwight was talking about D Day. We had intended to have a couple of weeks in France in the camper, but decided at the last moment to head to the west country, Dorset to be precise.

First stop, the tackle shop at Wareham, then on to a campsite on the Purbeck coast, with a twenty minute walk down to the rocks. Had a few hours catching wrasse on some smelly Mersea lug I'd bought along. Only one garfish , a bit surprising. Good fun though.

Had some great trail running during the week, along the high chalk ridges overlooking Poole harbour, Studland and Swanage bay. Stunning.

One day started grimly. Cold, grey with a nasty northerly wind. We took the camper up to Hardy's Monument, got out, walked around for five minutes, froze our dooh dahs off and got back inside. The crap weather continued until late afternoon and then the clouds lifted, the sun came out and the world looked a different place. Time for a quick fish.

The camper at Hardy's Monument

Twenty minutes later I was on Chesil beach, the sea as flat as a pancake and loads of gars and mackerel attacking the whitebait shoals. Within a few casts I started to get bites and then the float shot under and the first garfish of the evening leapt out of the water before being slid on to the shingle. They don't half go on light gear.

I ended up with eight more gars and several makkie before it was time to leave.

The next morning, after a longer than anticipated off road run ( bad signposting, that's what I'm blaming it on ), it was back for another go. First cast, bang, gar on. There were loads of them and I was getting a bite every cast until the tide eased. I stopped counting at twenty gars so it was a good morning. Back to the camper for (very) fresh mackerel and crusty bread. Bloody lovely.

Got lucky with the weather, plenty of fishing, eating good food, a few drinks, great trail running and a bit of walking. That'll do for me.

Anyway, I won't bore you or myself further. It was a mighty fine trip.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Wild West

Another trip with The Mighty Turdster to the south west of Ireland, the Beara Peninsula, a fantastic place.

Fishing was a bit tougher this year, but we still had plenty of fish. We saw lots of dolphins, a sea otter and were dive bombed by a peregrine which came within touching distance. As always, we enjoyed watching the gannets dive on the sand eel and mackerel shoals. What an incredible sight and sound.

One evening we were heading to a mark known as "Conger Rock". This was in a very remote spot, driving around tiny winding lanes, which were getting smaller and smaller the further we went. The recent rain had ripped away much of the track and as we went down a very steep part I had concerns about getting back up again.

We saw a bloke digging something that looked like a grave in the middle of nowhere. Very creepy. Turdy shouted out to him to ask if it was OK to leave the car here. The bloke laughed like a maniac and came bounding across, sticking his scarred head right in the car, blabbering away in an indecipherable accent. Turdy let out a weird noise and was clearly rattled at this character straight out of the film "Deliverance".

We asked him the same question several times but received no understandable answer. We looked down to Conger Rock, which was being hammered by a big Atlantic swell, with spray everywhere and glanced down the ever steepening track.

Turdy turned to me and said " This feels wrong, lets get out of here". We did and I was pretty pleased about it too. It did feel very strange indeed.

One day at a lovely spot called Cod Head, Turdy hooked a really big conger. When he pulled into it he thought he was stuck on the bottom, but after a few seconds there were two huge thumps on the rod as it whooped right over. A few seconds later the rod sprang back and after Turdy wound in we found that the conger had bitten through a 150lb mono trace. Blimey Charlie.

A monster mackerel for Turdy
 The best session was on our last day when we took the cable car over to Dursey Island. That in itself was an interesting experience, high above the Atlantic in 30 mph winds.

We found masses of coalfish in the fast water in the sound between the island and mainland. It was steaming through, at maybe six to eight knots and was sixty or seventy feet deep and those fish were hitting our lures every cast.

Turdy into a coalie

They were incredibly hard fighters, especially with assistance of the current and averaged 3-4lb. I had two around 5lb and Turdy lost one in the kelp at least that big. A great day.

We put circle hooks on the metal lures to enable us to fish deep in the kelp without getting hooked up. One of those rare occasions when something worked as well in practice as it did in theory.

Another great trip.

Monday, 11 September 2017


“I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run to savour the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.”

Dean Karnazes

I did the Langham 10K at the weekend and I didn't enjoy it at all at the time. Apart from finishing.

This got me thinking about why we do things. Why I do things. Why is always the most interesting question. In almost anything, "how" is easily explained, "why" is much more difficult.

Why do I run ? Well, it isn't "to get fit". I can't stick at anything I don't enjoy. I do it because I like it for itself. Getting fit is just a bonus.

The day to day running I do is off road, along footpaths, trails, woods and marshes. Even when I'm training ( oh yes, just like Mo Farah ) for a race I don't time my runs. I just run according to how I feel, sometimes a hard session and sometimes I'll stop and admire the view or have a chat. Sometimes the run never gets past a walk.

When you play football, cricket, tennis and any number of sports you can reasonably expect to win, at least some of the time. When you enter a race of 900 as I did yesterday and you're fifty three years old, you ain't ever going to win. On the one hand running, completing and hopefully improving your times builds your confidence and on the other the fact that you'll never win keeps you humble. I like that.

Yesterday I arrived early, to pick up my number and register. I mingled with the other runners and took in the atmosphere. Five minutes from the start we were told to approach start line and I pushed through to a position when I wouldn't be in the way of faster runners and others wouldn't be in my way. Then we were off, the most dangerous time when in a big group, it's so easy to be tripped up.

After a few minutes I was struggling to keep up a decent pace whilst relaxing and breathing properly. Normally this sorts itself out, but yesterday was uncomfortable from the start, I felt I was off the pace and struggling. As we passed the the half way mark I asked a bloke what the time was and surprisingly we were at a pace that if continued, would enable me to beat my previous best time. That's why I was struggling.

Good opportunity though, if I could keep it up. It was bloody uncomfortable, I wasn't enjoying it. I was willing the markers indicating each passing kilometre to appear. 6 km.....what feels like ages later where is 7 km, we must have past it ? A few minutes later 8 km appears. 

2 km to go. Keep going, it'll be over in under ten minutes. 9 km, almost there, I'm feeling shite and slowing down, or that's how it feels. I turn into the straight towards the finish and see the digital clock,  which is telling me it's my quickest time yet. I cross the finish line, thank fuck it's over.

After I get my breath back, I walk over and get a cup of tea and a bit of cake and watch the other runners coming in. What did I say about not being enjoyable today ? It is, but only in retrospect.

It doesn't matter what the actual time is or whether it's a good or bad time. It's the fastest I've done it and I'm getting quicker ( sometimes ) as I age. A small victory. Chasing away the decline that time will inevitably deliver. But not today.

Friday, 11 August 2017

High Summer

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

Henry James

Great gig last week at Newmarket race course. The mighty James, first time I've seen them. What a band, so many chuuuuunes. Goozgog left the confines of Capel and joined me and was as equally enthusiastic as me. We enjoyed the, erm, people watching, too.

So many singalong numbers, what a voice Tim Booth has got. The old classics mixed in with ( very good ) new stuff. Best gig for ages.

I've been mulleting again. By that I mean I've been fishing for them, not catching them. I knew I had it too easy last week.

I've been trying to find out where they are at different stages of the tide. At the moment all I know is where they are around low water. It appears they spread out a bit as the tide floods. Going again tomorrow, I'm due another one.

What a beautiful evening it was yesterday, the wind dropped away leaving blue sky and scattered cloud. Fantastic.

There were loads of fish about, big ones, small ones and some as big as....well, you get the picture, Couldn't catch the buggers though.

Corking photos, even if I say so myself.

Been listening to " Antics " by Interpol recently, which has been played relentlessly on the car CD player. A real " grower " and my current fave. Check it out, pop pickers.

Finally, a word for The Mighty Turdster, who caught himself a stonking 9lb bass from  his own boat last week. Good work Turd.