From the water’s edge

June 2015 - In the heat of the morning

I hope that you find my journal interesting and entertaining. If, having read this, you think that I am talking rubbish then at least you have stopped and thought about it long enough to come to that conclusion which is something of a result in my book. If you would like to comment on this article or anything else relating to my website, please feel free to contact me using the adjacent form. Feedback is always greatly appreciated and very helpful when it comes to improving both my site and my angling. Thank you for looking. If this form will not work for you, please e-mail me at

I spend all of my life outdoors. I would rather be cold than hot. I can see nothing but beauty wherever I look in nature whatever the weather, but this time of the year is not my favourite. I become even more lacklustre and lazy than usual when the heat gets beyond 20 degrees. The sunshine is harsh and wearing on the temper. All is fine until things go wrong, then the heat seems to make everything worse and besides, in the back of my mind I am aware that the fishing is seldom great.

We were on the river again today, the mother stream of the one we fished last week and a different kettle of fish altogether. Here there were signs of life. Small fish plipping and plopping out all over the shop. We had clear water and loads of weed along the deep margins. It all looked very perchy indeed.

Right from the off though the sun was beating down and we were grateful for the shade of the huge old willows that line this stretch. That sun was at the wrong angle and it took a good pair of polaroids to open a window into the world below.

Pete had suggested that this stretch might be suited to dibbling with the pole, as it was very weedy and previous season’s casting had pretty much found us struggling to get more than a couple of small perch among the more numerous jacks.

He was right. It worked very well, but as always with some new adventure more issues were raised than there were problems solved. These two rivers are pretty slow flowing. The smaller because of the naturally minimal fall as it passes through this neck of the woods. The one we fished today winds its way back and forth across the valley floor, and being the parent river might be expected to have a bit more of a push. It does but not very much more and this has to have been exacerbated by previous dredging works. The deep wide middle of the stream collects all the crap and dead branches that fall in, so it is very snaggy. The margins are full of cabbages and reeds and hard to fish.

I really think that those who call for more dredging every time the river floods have a lot to answer for. Making the channel deeper and wider makes absolutely no difference because it is already full in the summer, so winter rains can only ever add to the width beyond the banks. It doesn’t matter whether the full glass holds half a pint or a gallon. One more cupful in either will end up on the table. All dredging does is reduce the flow in summer and have a negative impact on all the wildlife that relies on it. This river was famous for big bags of roach and chub, not any more it isn’t and you can lay the blame at the door of otters and cormorants if you wish but the truth is they haven’t buggered it up, we have. They are natural predators of freshwater fish and the ecosystem could carry them easily if we hadn’t already impoverished it beyond sustainability.

Enough, what of the fishing? It was slow at first and hardly frenetic at the end but as the morning wore on, we did at least begin to get to grips with it. We both used the pole today and both suffered the same frustrations. Pulling for a break when pole fishing is a total nightmare. That elastic just will  not let you pull it loose and it was not even possible to break the 4 lbs leader or straighten the very fine wire size 6 hooks I was using unless I could get hands on the line. Then there is always the very real possibilty of being hit hard by the jig if it comes free suddenly, so pulling for a break can involve some very entertaining hopping around on one leg trying to pull the line with or round the feet, in the hope that the lead will hit the wellies instead of hands or eyes if it lets go.

Needless to say we are still struggling with that one, as we are with re-threading the pole, if as it did for both of us this morning, the elastic snaps. Something else to carry then along with some spare laccy, a diamond eye pole-threading wire. This was all challenging enough, but trying to withdraw a recalcitrant bung using bits of blackthorn cut from the hedge is even harder. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

One solution that worked well is not getting snagged in the first place. Like you have any choice? Well actually there is no choice, that is in the lap of the gods but it is possible to drastically reduce the number of snaggings by lifting the lure straight up, rather than dragging it or allowing it to swing into trouble. Truth be told that is how poles work best anyway and the fish seemed to prefer it as well.

Probably the biggest challenge is setting the hook. So far we have used only small baits and mine have all been mounted on very fine wire dragon micro jigs in size 6. When using a rod it is not hard to straighten them right out on a snag.

We both shed fish today in higher numbers than we are used to. There is definitely a conundrum to be solved here. Too heavy an elastic means shortening the tip of the pole to allow it through. It makes the pole stiffer and less pleasant to play fish on while increasing the chances of bouncing small fish off the hook. A problem made worse with barbless hooks.

On the other hand, softer elastic and a finer tip may not pull the hook home. I bounced a few fish off to begin with because I just could not stop myself striking. Lifting into the fish is the answer. By the end, I was holding the lure dead still as soon as I thought I detected a take. The fish would then begin rattling at the rod tip and I could just gently lift into them. It worked far better and I had five in the last ten minutes.

It all requires a lot more practice but is showing much potential. Next week I get to choose the venue. I think I fancy the canal again. I never would have believed I would say this, but there are far more worthwhile fish in the canals these days. We nearly always use the net once or twice in a morning, not so on the rivers. Mine only got wet today when I was trying to get my lost jigs back.

artificial lite



journal 2015.


journal 2015.