Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Forgotten Lake - David Vaissiere

David Vassiere

Set within the grounds of a large Norfolk estate lies the lake, created by damning a stream that ran through the middle of the estate the lake was created, for the most part it is very shallow, no more than 2 feet deep, and very silty, it gets slightly deeper down towards the dam, and around the boat house where 5 feet is the deepest point. The 20 acres of water is broken up by 3 islands and there are several small shallow and snaggy bays full of trees that look like they have been in the water for many, many years, the bottom is very weedy throughout the year, and the water is clearer than tap water, the formidable estate house overlooks the lake giving you the sense that you are being watched constantly, rhododendrons grow around most of the lake and cling to the old estate boundary and out houses walls which crumble under the weight of the plants,  it is quite simply a wonderful place to be and have the pleasure of fishing.

Surprisingly though it was only March this year that I finally fished it, that’s despite it being no more than 3 miles from my house, all I had ever heard where horror stories of the cormorants wiping out the silverfish stocks and subsequently the pike suffering, now normally I would discount such stories but they came from a friend that was on the syndicate for 10 years but then gave it up as a bad job when he spent a whole season on the water and didn’t even get a run!

The lake then lay pretty much undisturbed from the season he left, for 8 years in total, and the catch report book read pretty much the same thing from the few brave enough to fish it, blank, blank, blank……..

I wasn’t really too interested in fishing the place, having found some good fishing on “The Pit” I wasn’t really prepared to waste March fishing a new water when the fishing on the gravel pit ended at the end of the month, but I was persuaded to by my good friend and regular fishing partner Roger, and I’m glad that he did as the fishing turned out to be quite good, no big fish where caught but the sport was hectic and the fish where in good condition and well fed, though what they were feeding on was beyond us…

Our first trip was mid-March, and the weather was not good, heavy snow was forecast to arrive during the morning and last all day, but us being determined we were going to stick with our plan, and duly arrived just before first light, having never seen the lake before I was far from confident, the water was too shallow and clear for my liking, and I was instantly regretting the decision to fish the place, those thoughts where soon banished to the back of my mind though when Roger had a run after just 10 minutes on his float ledgered smelt cast into just 2 foot of water, thought the fish was only a jack it was a massive confidence boost, not long after the same rod was away again and a low double came to the net, just like the first fish it was in superb condition and well fed, soon the same rod was away again but unfortunately he missed it on the strike, and a few minutes later the smelt was on the move again but the fish dropped the bait.

What a start that was, 4 runs in the first hour on a new water, I was however slightly despondent having not had a run even though I was fishing identical baits and rigs to him, but fishing can be like that sometimes and you just have to get on with it.

Things went quiet after that, and we were contemplating a move, now as I said earlier the majority of the lake is very shallow, and I was expecting the deep water to produce the runs, particularly on such a cold day, but it had been in the shallow water that the fish had come from, and there was a swim directly opposite us that screamed pike so we decided to walk round there, to the left was the entrance to a bay that was full of sunken trees and branches that had fallen into the lake many years ago, directly in front of us was an island about 30 yards out and to the right another island, though this necessitated a cast of 80 yards, luckily the wind was with us and the 80 yard distance was easily covered, unfortunately for me though it was Rogers rod that was away, the long range bait to the island had been taken, and though it was only a jack it proved that the very shallow water near the islands would produce.

That was the only run to come off the island though and soon we were contemplating a move, predictably though it was at this point, when we were in an open position that the winds picked up and the snow started to come down, we decided to pack up and move swiftish to a more sheltered area, where once again Roger got the only run and another jack came twisting through the clear water, I unhooked the fish in the water as by this point I was thoroughly fed up and ready to go home.

We moved once again after this, back to where we started and it was Rogers rod that was away again but again it was only a jack, eventually though, just as the snow really started to build up I received a run and though again it was only a small jack I was more than relieved just to have broken my duck, I then promptly pulled out a low double and another jack in quick succession and then pulled out of another.

It was at this moment that I noticed that a couple of baits that we had discarded by the pontoon had been taken, Roger quickly dropped a bait right next to the pontoon and was rewarded with an immediate response, and the biggest of the day of 15lb slipped into the net, and that was it for the day.

We were unsure what to make of our first trip down there, we hadn’t seen any silver fish topping, and there were a few cormorants present, yet the pike all seemed well fed and in good condition, another trip was in order.

I returned on my own a few days later, the weather was slightly better, though still none the warmer, I only managed two runs from an area we have identified as being the most productive, the first was lost and felt like a good fish, I was gutted, but it didn’t take long for 1 of my other rods to go and a long lean 15lber came to the net, shame she was empty, and was wondering if she was a fish struggling to find a decent meal, apart from being underweight she was in mint condition with some lovely markings.
It was 2 weeks before we returned, we had planned to switch our attention to the carp, but with the weather still being cold for the time of year and the pike still having not spawned we decided to have another go to see if there were any big fish present, to our disappoint though when we turned up the productive deeper are was frozen solid and only the shallower end was clear of ice, we had no choice but to fish there and a dropped run was our only reward.

We were willing the wind to pick up, and to our surprise it did and started to create a nice ripple that soon got rid of the dreaded ice, like rats up a drain pipe we were into the productive area as soon as the ice was gone, but yet again it was Rogers rod which where away again, (im really going to have to stop fishing with him), I wasn’t particularly surprised though, some people just get lucky and instantly get the run of the water, where as some, usually me struggle on new waters for a while, why this is so is beyond me, anyway he managed a couple of jacks and a couple of low doubles and I was still fishless, when his rod was away again on a popped up long ranger mackerel I was really pissed off, but out of sympathy for me ( all say awww) he let me have the run and I managed to bundle a 12lber into the net before the fish even knew what had happened, while we were unhooking the fish my live chub was taken, (caught at the venue, honestly guv), and another low double fell into the net, I was feeling much better by this point, I added a jack for good measure and that was it for day, it had been another hard but ultimately rewarding day.

We decided after that to give it up for the season, and our thoughts turned to carp fishing, I was desperate for a 20lb carp and Roger had a water in mind for a chance of a 20, on my first trip down there I managed a 17 and two 20s so I was over the moon, I returned a few day later and had 4 more carp to just over 20lb, but my mind was wandering back to piking as the weather was forecast to be cooler with an overnight frost, so a plan was hatched to fish on the Saturday following the frost.

We arrived just before sunrise and fog hung over the lake and totally obscured it from view as we walked down to it, the air was cool but the sky was clear and we knew the temperature would pick up as soon as the sun rose, as we approached the boat house there was almost an eerie atmosphere as we were completely surrounded by fog, and the air was still and silent, anticipation was the word in my mind.

Soon I had 2 rods out and Roger had 2 out and I decided to chuck a lure around, the water was even clearer than usual and a few inches lower, the weed was starting to get a spurt on and was much thicker than a couple of weeks previous, first cast with the lure and half way in it was hit with force and a jack came thrashing to the surface, a good start I thought, not long after my half mackerel was away and a low double was swiftly unhooked and returned, for once it was me getting all the action, Rogers rod was then soon away and a fish of about 13lb was duly unhooked and released, it was clear to us then that the pike had spawned and where obviously in a frantic feeding mode, not long later my smelt next to a sunken tree was taken and another jack was duly landed and returned, it was a terrific start to the day and I was enjoying the fact I had caught more and was rubbing it in just a little, it’s always important to have a bit of banter and not get to caught up with the seriousness of it all.

It all went quiet after the initial burst of activity and the sun climbed higher in the sky and burned off the remaining fog and the temperatures started to rise rapidly, we decided a move was in order and the point swim was calling me, we moved round and instantly disturbed a fish in no more than a foot of water, I was optimistic, and even more so when my half mackerel next to the island was taken immediately after I cast it out, annoyingly the fish dropped the bait.

We thrashed the clear water to a foam with all manner of lures, and luckily we were treated to the awesome sight of a large pike launching itself out of the weed to engulf Rogers spoon in less than a foot of water, it was a sight to behold, the fish was promptly landed and was clearly a fish which before spawning would have weighed more than the 15lb 2oz that the scales recorded, it was then my turn to get a fish as the indicator on my mackerel rod slowly dropped back indicating that my bait next to the island in 2 foot of water had been taken and a low double came tamely to the net.

The day wore on and it got hotter and hotter and we had a move to a new swim, by this point it was midday and the sun was at its hottest and I wasn’t confident of anything happening, I was starting to get sunburnt as I was toying with the idea of packing up and finding some shade, but at that moment a jack went for my float giving us confidence that there were pike around, not long after this my smelt in 2 foot of water was taken, the culprit being a low double, while I was playing this in my long range mackerel was also picked up by a fish, 2 hours of sitting there and nothing happening, then 2 runs at once, the mind boggles, the smaller of the 2 fish was dealt with by Roger, it being a low double while I dealt with the larger fish which tailwalked at long range, she was soon beaten though and a nice mid double was resting in the alongside the low double.

We moved once more after this and a few more jacks and once more a double came my way to make it a very good day, we ended up with 14 fish between us and it was a nice way to finish our pike fishing until next September.

We are going to return at some point this summer after the large head of tench that inhabit the water, and I’m really looking forward to it as the lake has a unique atmosphere which I’m not quite able to describe, I’m just glad a lot of people have forgotten about the place and it only appears to be us fishing it.

Just an added note, I returned twice more on my own in May, the first time was not ideal, there was a vintage car rally taking place on the estates fields and the place was full of people wandering around, not what I wanted, anyway to cut a long story short I managed a jack and a lovely 16lber which showed that there were still some good uncaught fish in there.

I returned 2 days later and I was treated to one of the best days fishing I have had in a long time, the weed had really started to explode and in places it was through the surface.
Anyway about an hour after getting the baits out I got my first run as my float ledgered mackerel next to a fallen tree was away and a low double was landed and duly returned, half an hour later that rod went again and a nice 13lber came  to the net, soon after it was away again and I lost the fish unfortunately, I cast the bait back out and it went instantly but again I lost it during the fight, then immediately my rod to the left went as a pike took my long range ledgered pollen and after a good fight, with the fish only being hooked on one point I landed my biggest from the lake with an immaculate and stunningly marked 17lb 

I then had a hectic hour of sport where 4 doubles to 15lb and a jack came to my rods, at this point I of course had to ring Roger, just to rub in the fact he was at work while I was out catching fish, it didn’t go down to well, though I quite enjoyed winding him up.
All went quiet for a while until just after midday where in the space of half an hour I managed 3 doubles to 15lb on a surface popper lure, it was great fun, I would wait to see a pike roll and then cast the lure at it.

I went on to add 3 more doubles that day as the pike when feeding crazy, I ended the day with fish of 4lb, 10lb, 13lb 4oz, 17lb, 15lb, 15lb 5oz, 12lb, 10lb 8oz, 11lb, 13lb 10oz, 15lb 12oz, 15lb, 11lb, and 13lb, what a truly fantastic day it was, and one I will never forget.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

A Year of Song - Dave Marrs

Many have been the band or musician referring to a particularly happy or memorable year through their song or performance.  This is nothing new and indeed from the top of my head, performances by artists ranging from Frank Sinatra ‘It was a very good year’, Kid Creole and the Coconuts “Best years of our lives”, to the one I perhaps enjoy most of all, David Bowie and “Golden Years” all spring to life. This is a recant of what to me, was perhaps the very best and most enjoyable year of my angling life.  An idyllic time spent enjoying a great job and then time off spent fishing some of the loveliest venues of a hallowed corner of the country, deep in the Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Fens.  I certainly often find myself reliving what were great days, which were very easy to bear under the sun, the mood and now, the memories.

Currently with a couple more really young kids I can’t really do a lot at the moment fishing wise nowadays.  I do try to snatch hours here and there lure fishing, but other than that I really need the missus to disappear to relatives for the odd weekend before I get to have a ‘crack’.  Without wishing to appear discontented, I think it is also worth mentioning that over the last couple of winters very occasionally, I’ve enjoyed the pleasure of the odd day out on the boat with Rob Shallcroft (thanks Rob) and the Portabote and I also get out here and there when we can.  Such a day out is a real treat, always enjoyed and is always eventful – even if it isn’t a fish stacked bonanza. It really makes for a great day when you wake up thinking that something eventful is going to happen and packing kit the night before, sleep doesn’t come too easily and it reminds of days when my time was my own and I chose my own pursuits.  How times change though, back in the day I always tended to be very comfortable in my own company truth be known, aside from fishing with one good buddy I actually preferred to beat my own path.  Although my very best friend Nick Clare (get well soon mate!) and I fished together fairly regularly, I think it is also fair to say that I’ve managed to fish more nights on my own in remote Fenland venues, than my missus has ever bought shoes!  Each night and each venue fished during a decent stint before I bit the ‘married’ dirt again, brought many different and many unique memories to be mouth-wateringly savoured these 15 years on.

Summer 1998

So with a bang, I started my third season on the Fens, having moved to Lincolnshire back in 1995.  I must point out at this stage just in case I haven’t before, that for the vast majority of my angling life I’ve been a Zander fanatic.  Having heard rumours of them not a million miles from where I grew up in Corby as a young lad, I actually caught my first proper one from a Leicestershire pit in 1993 at the first time of trying and the following season, I caught my first two doubles of 11lb 9oz and 10lb plus three back up 9’s too, the Fens didn’t give them up so easily though.  I’d started on the Fens in the summer of 96 and by the time that the 98 season came around, I’d had a hard earned double of 11lb 6oz with a couple of 9’s and quite a few other Zeds of varying sizes from four of the five Fenland venues I’d been concentrating on.

By the opening night of the 98/99 Season, you just couldn’t get rid of Baddiel and Skinner singing ‘3 Lions’ in their moronic tones (I sincerely would love to see the pair of those chimps with 3 Lions on their chests……) for another of England’s attempts at the World Cup. I attempted to escape it all and the first session of the new season saw me on a swim I’d found on a large Fenland river the previous September.  Originally I’d seen the area mentioned in an Angling Times return, ‘Zander showing at…..’ and when I turned up for a look midweek, a dead Zander of about 3lbs which had been recently thrown up the bank (a big match had taken place the weekend before), was starting to fester on the bank.  I gave the fish back to the Mother river and set up my kit.  I can honestly say I was so excited, as my previous and only trip to the swim in Sep 97, saw me enjoy a fantastic if somewhat unpredictable nights sport.  I’d put two rods out, one live-bait paternoster off the near shelf in about 14ft of water and a dead-bait cast to the middle of the river (hardly scientific fishing) I then wondered as the cloak of darkness covered the river, when the Zander were going to put in an appearance.  In those days, I catnapped in a chair with a sleeping bag wrapped around me, there were no comfy bed-chairs in my armoury then and as midnight came and passed, I began to feel that perhaps this river was going to be a tough nut to crack.  At about 0340hrs I was awoken from my slumbers as one of my very cheap buzzer alarms sounded.  Grabbing the rod, I was frustrated as I missed the run and also lost the live-bait which had been doing the business.  I re-baited and put the rod back down on the rest as I reset the monkey-climber (check out me back in the day……).  The one thing I couldn’t understand was why I couldn’t set the indicator as it was repeatedly pulled out of my hands – “A run you nob”, I quickly wound down and hit what was clearly a run and was happy as the through action, 9ft Mitchell Merit VST leger rod was bend double as a decent fish held sway.  Eventually I managed to get the fish under control and landed a 16lb 4oz pike, which at the time was my second best and thrilled me to bits.  It was followed an hour later by another pike of about 9lbs or so, then as soon as it got light, I started getting run after run and landed (but missing a few too) four Zander to 5lb 14oz.  To me, this was an extremely interesting first night on what was going to become one of my very favourite venues and one on which I’d spend a decent bit of time over the next 12 years or so.

Anyway, back to the first night of the season.
On my first trip of my two weeks holiday, I arrived after the 70+ mile drive an hour or two before dark on 15 Jun only to find the bank completely overgrown and deserted.  My baits went out immediately and by the arrival of darkness, my somewhat flimsy and definitely not fit for purpose DAM bivvy was put up and I just awaited the arrival of the toothy terrors I was after catching.  If you’ve never done it before, I’d wholeheartedly recommend a spot of night fishing.  To me, the anticipation I feel as I watch the sun sink at the end of a busy day, the calm in the air as the traffic dissipates on the surrounding roads and the open air orchestra as bird and insects come alive, makes evening time a true joy.  The rods went out at midnight, a brew on the go and I sat back on my chair making a bet with the devil on my shoulder.  A run before 01.00am I bet and I honestly can’t remember the forfeit that I promised the devil I’d pay (within the confines of my own tiny mind) should I not succeed.  Not to worry because at 0047hrs I had my first run of the season and within a couple of minutes a nice zed of 6lbs 11oz sat within the confines of my net, within an hour I had another of 6lbs 2oz landed and returned.  To me that was a real result but it wasn’t over there, as the dawn cracked a run saw a beautiful pike of 17lbs 6oz landed.  Interestingly, although I fished this area many, many more times over the next 13 years, I’ve never landed another pike anywhere near this size from the stretch.  Bizarre, to land two pike in my top fice in my first two trips to the area I really thought I’d fallen on pike heaven.  Another nice pike of 11lbs finished off what was a cracking trip as I packed up first thing in the morning and headed home to watch the previous evenings World Cup game on replay the next morning.
The rest of my two weeks summer holiday went in a haze of fishing, beer and World Cup games.  I fished until I could fish no more, driving hundreds of miles with the price of fuel not being quite the totally inhibiting factor that it is today. I fished almost every night, then drank beer and watched the World Cup game at home each morning, before heading to bed and starting the whole process off once again each afternoon with a quick trip snatching live-baits.  I fished 4 different venues during two weeks in Jun 98 and caught zander from all, the holiday culminated in a superb new PB of 11lb 10oz on the very last night of all.  I flew back over to work and as I wasn’t due in work until the next afternoon, I scampered down to the bar to catch up with the lads and the gossip.  As an added bonus, England were playing Argentina in the World Cup semi-finals.  Say no more but as the West Ham fans hanged effigies of David Beckham from the heights, I was already getting ready for my next fishing leave.

Back again – September.

Robbie Williams was belting out ‘Millennium’ and was at number one in the charts as I headed back for my next trip home and onward to the Fens, to be honest I much preferred the Manic Street Preachers and their hit ‘If you tolerate this’ truth be knownAnyway I was on my way home and joining me on the transport to the Airport was none other than my Officer Commanding, he was a top bloke and absolutely encouraged a real ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude, which of course all of us lads in his Squadron absolutely loved.  Don’t get me wrong, there was no weakness, if you dropped the ball he was the proverbial ton of bricks but he always fought tooth and nail for his lads and was a real blokes, bloke. We had a chat during the half hour journey about what Disco Dave would be getting up to on leave, then he wished me the very best of luck with the zandering and we parted ways as he flew North.  Getting home about lunch time and picking up my car, I went to my Mums office for a brew and to say hello, I then headed back and packed up my gear.  I had a hunch and headed back to the very first Fenland drain I’d ever seen, let alone fished.  I’d had a good number of sessions on it over my first two Fen years but although having landed a few Pike and a very big Eel of over 4lbs, I’d never yet managed a zander from it.  This my 3rd season in attempt - would this be the night?

Once I’d visited a decent little area of the drain and bagged a couple dozen live-baits, small skimmers, roach, rudd and perch, sorted, I headed off a couple of bridges downstream.  Hitting the swim I fancied, one I’d fished a fair few times I started to set up.  Three rods were the order of the night.  One bait was fished just over the inside shelf a couple of rod-lengths downstream with a nice little bait banging away on a sunken paternoster.  One dead bait was cast on a ‘popped-down’ rig to a far bank culvert and another live was cast to the middle two rod-lengths out.  I sat back and waited, wondering if this would be the night I cracked my duck on this drain.  As I relaxed and the day’s events and travelling took their toll rendering me a bit sleepy, I sat back in the chair and watched the cloak of darkness descend.  I will never tire of the atmosphere, a remote Fenland water will bring as darkness falls, and the wildlife literally seems reborn as all around you comes to life.  Bats performing Arial wizardry, birds in song and rustling everywhere as field mice and other creatures move in the grass beneath your feet.  Your senses are heightened and sitting back with a nice cup of tea, you can suck it all in and just melt away.  Before long it was dark and I was dozing in my extra comfy chair, a sleeping bag wrapped around me, warm and in one of my favourite places sleep took me and I dozed off.

I didn’t have too long to wait, as at about 0045hrs I had a run on the inside rod and could feel the pressure of a smallish fish struggling to resist coming in.  I soon had the fish under control as it was as I suspected a small schoolie Zed of a couple of pounds.  It was only as I pulled it across the top beaten towards the net that disaster struck and my first zed from the drain fell off an inch away from the draw cord of the net.  I was gutted, totally gutted and to make things worse, as I pulled the rod out to check the hooks and re-bait, the zed had managed to get the rig tangled around my middle rod on the far bank as the alarm on that started screeching.  Or so I thought!  On checking the rods, I actually had a screaming run that was taking line at a rapid rate of knots.  I wound down and hit the run, an awesome feeling hit me as this fish felt pretty substantial indeed.  Under control and no mistakes, a nice zed started making boils right underneath the rod tip, it fought well but was soon in the net and I was thrilled to bits as it was a nice fish!  On the scales it went 9lb 3oz and I was thrilled to bits – I had to fish the drain for another 5 ½ years before I would beat it.  Another schoolie shortly afterwards and it was a happy, happy man who packed up first thing in the morning and headed off home for a few beers with his dad later that afternoon.  Chuffed wasn’t the word, I’m still bloody smiling about this one now as I write this 15 years later, what an enjoyable session.  I fished that swim a fair bit during the two weeks off I had and managed quite a few more zeds as they were resident, I learned that some years it fished and then others, it simply didn’t.  I also managed a 13lb 6oz pike which fought like stink in the darkness, lean, mean and striped like a tiger that pike went like an absolute train as it fought and fought.

Later on during my leave, I arranged to meet up with one of my army buddies who had fished when he was younger but as adulthood arrived, he gave up, preferring the other delights life offered.  We served in the same squadron and so being on leave at the same time with Roy hailing from Peterborough which was pretty much directly on my route to the Fens, we agreed to meet up and I picked him up on the main ring-road by the Edith Cavell junction.  As we drove East, I couldn’t help myself singing the praises of my chosen venue to Roy promising him that we would catch big preds for sure.  As it was going to be a social, we stopped off in a little Fenland town near to the venue and dived in for some beer.  Bonus, there was a stash of  two pint cans of Fosters left over from the summers World Cup promotions and so we bought a few of those to see us through.  The plan being to stay up and fish for as long as we could but have a lazy stay the next morning and head off after lunch, midweek we wouldn’t be in anyone’s way.  

It was almost dark as we pulled up to the swims and got the rods ready.  Roy had brought his mega-gucci ridge tent which took him about an hour to put up, I got two rods out for myself and one for Roy and then popped up my little day shelter, which was really all you needed if rain wasn’t on the agenda.  By the time I finished and cracked open a beer (I always operated a strict, ‘no beer until the bivvy and rods are out’ rule) Roy was just about set up and sat on the spare chair I’d brought along.  I kid you not this was to develop into about to one of the most enjoyable sessions I’ve ever had, as no sooner than I’d sat down and sipped my first beer and I was away and wound down into a substantial feeling fish.  One feeling I really hope I’ve not felt for the last time, is the feeling in the pitch darkness as you strike into a solid zed in fourteen or fifteen foot of water thirty yards or more out in this big water.  It is an immense feeling as the rod doubles over and a very obvious moving weight makes its presence felt on the other end.  Brilliant, it was a very excited Roy who placed the net in the margins for me as the fish ploughed about in its attempts to escape.  ‘Don’t move the net Roy, let the fish clear the drawstring and lift’, I needn’t have worried as Roy professionally netted what looked to be a cracking zed and one which may go double figures.  Old Roy was jumping about excited to bits as he looked at this fish which I weighed in at 9lb 9oz.  He took a cracking photo and we were both chuffed to bits, for me it was job done as we’d managed a real decent fish and hence saved my reputation (Zanderman Disco Dave in the bar back overseas at work).  It wasn’t to end there either, we must have had about 20 runs that night as I landed six zander and a couple of pike, whilst big Roy had a small zed, a couple of pike and I lost a total munking zander after allowing it to wallow in the marginal lilies before I could net it for him, definitely a double for sure!  As things quietened in the early hours we bid farewell as we headed to our respective bivvies all of ten yards apart.  A lazy morning and brunch turned into an interesting lunch time as we noticed some disturbance on the far bank.  I quickly cast a small bait over to the disturbance and quickly caught a schoolie on the drop (a fairly common occurrence on this water I found, a few years ago when the schoolies were in evidence).  Roy had a cast over too and nailed this small zed almost immediately, however that was to be the end of that session as we ran out of bait.  I drove back home, dropping Roy off in Peterborough on the way and headed off for a few pints with my dad which rounded off a great leave in good style!

Back Again – End of the 98/99 Season

Aside from a few days snatched at New Year, I wasn’t home again until March and I was to be fishing with my best mate, Nick Clare who’d recce’d a stretch of a serious big fish water and we had planned to enjoy a three day/night session on a pretty remote stretch.  I always enjoyed my fishing with Nick, he’s a legend and a very good angler to boot.  Having so much in common, we always had a good laugh too be it at ourselves or anyone else we could rip the piss out of.  The year before, I’d seen Nick off and caused all his alarms to go off at once in the middle of the night but watched in shock as he dived out of his bivvy then headed straight down the bank head first into the margins.  If he ever found out that was me, he’d kill me so I hope he isn’t reading this!  We set up anyway, three rods each and were only fishing a few hours before Nick managed a nice 14lb 8oz pike.  What a nice fish but such great pike didn’t half give you the feeling that you were playing the mother of all record zander, when you hooked into them in the middle of the night!  Now we didn’t have all the fancy all-weather clothing back in those days but I guess we were four stone or so lighter too and so layers of ‘last years fashion’ gear tended to do the job (not!).  Nick and I enjoyed literally a couple of tinnies of beer and retired to our respective bivvies, the rods being on the alarms.  Tucked up in my sleeping bag on my very first bedchair, I was chuffed to bits, nice and warm.  Fortunately events were to see me getting dragged out of my slumber as a dead chublet fished on the far bank was taken.  I’d only had one zander previously from this venue and it had weighed all of about 1lb, but this one was fighting well and feeling a bit better in size.  Soon Nick had it in the net and it looked like a half decent fish, weighing in at 8lb 1oz.  Oh well, I hadn’t blanked and I don’t know about anyone else but I always find the end of the season a really hard time to catch.  If you can find them, you’re laughing but it is hard to find them, so more often you’re not laughing!

That being the end of the nights action we settled into the mammoth three night session and the daily routine which right now with two young’ uns’ at 8 months and 2 years old, I dream of.  Getting up, a brew and butty, back to bed for a snooze, check the rods, check the bait and all is well, catch a brew and back to bed for a snooze.  I get no sleep now and I often dream of the bivvy days.  Anyway I digress, that was the end of the action for the pair of us as we didn’t experience another run.  I suppose we were quite mad as we’d decided that run or not we’d see if we could bore out one of the drains big fish, but alas it wasn’t to be.  That said, another chap joined us to fish a few hundred metres away on the second day, a really decent bloke called Paul Woodward from Arlesey, Beds.  Would you believe that we had 6 baits peppered all over the drain, four lives and two deads and Paul tipped up and from a swim about 200 metres away caught two18lb+ pike in his first hour of fishing!  I felt like giving up.

Anyway, Paul and I talked about a small drain where we both used to fish for bait and he mentioned its pike potential having taken a few good fish from there himself.  I couldn’t believe him to be honest, the drain was to narrow and shallow for a big double to turn around in surely.  As the last morning of the 98/99 season was to dawn, it was very cold, damn cold with all the ice and bright skies you’d expect of your worst Zander scenario for the last day.  To be honest I was threaders with it and packed up very early in the morning, three nights in one swim is something I find very difficult to do and in fairness, I was just gagging to get in the car and disappear.  My dad and I had arranged to meet about lunchtime to watch a recording of what was to be a great boxing match, Lennox Lewis v/s Evander Holyfield.  My time estimation suggested that I had still a couple of hours of what had been my favourite ever fishing season left though and I felt it would be remiss to allow it to go to waste.  Therefore the car packed up solid with all my gear, I bid goodbye to Nick and wished him all the best until I could get back the following June and we could fish again.  I also said goodbye to Paul, he was a ‘proper’ specimen hunter and a real good bloke, a bit older than us and with some very fine fish under his belt – a very decent bloke too, I’ve never met Paul since and so if he is reading this, I hope all is well with you mate!

I was itching to drive home but didn’t want to waste the last day of what had been my most pleasurable season ever.  I’d had great sessions in the sun, the rain and even in minus 6 conditions on one of the hardest Fen drains ever, everything this season had turned sunny side up – it had been truly fantastic.  Normally on the last day I enjoy a small parade, where I let my livebaits go, wishing them well for the future but on this day, I decided to visit my bait catching venue and put a rod out for pike.  The car was crammed to its gunnels with crap from the three night session but I made sure I could grab a rod and net and so, a 6oz roach was paternostered just off a pumping station in literally two foot of water.  Well, it was only there about  five minutes before the float disappeared and a powerful fish took off.  I couldn’t believe it, what a beast which when landed and weighed, beat my pike PB by a full pound at 19lb 2oz and it was caught Ppiking, not whilst zandering (although I’d have taken a zed from the water if on offer – but to this day, I’ve never, ever heard of one from here).  Talk about chuffed, this season had truly been the very best season of my life from the very first night, through to the very last minute.  I headed over to enjoy the video of the previous evenings boxing (remember video’s?) over a pint or two with my dad, I really was a very happy bloke all the way home.  Truly, I enjoyed many more catches during the 98/99 season and although I’ve upped most of my PB’s since, I don’t think I can remember a season I’d rather sing about though……………….

Dave Marrs Aka Fentiger01

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Pit by David Vassiere

The Pit

 The 2012/2013 season was tough for a lot of anglers all over the country, the seemingly never ending rain, interspersed with snow, and up and down temperatures made it a testing winter for all us pike anglers, and even though some caught consistently some really struggled, I was in the latter camp until I decided on a new direction and challenge and really tried hard to get to grips with a large pit I had previously struggled on.

The pit in question is a large pit set in the middle of the Norfolk countryside and covers some 85 acres but has limited access due to being very overgrown, it has an average depth of 14 feet with the odd deeper hole and shallower area, but due to not being able to get a boat on the water all this had to be found out with the aid of a marker float, the water is absolutely gin clear and the bottom is covered in thick weed growth.
I had fished the pit on several occasions in the past but had really struggled with only a 3lb jack from a dozen visits, and to make matters worse the few other people fishing it where not catching either and had no idea what fish stocks where present, this knocked my confidence and I eventually drifted off onto the other pits on the complex and the other anglers drifted off as well and the pit was left relatively unfished for a few years.

Anyway back to the story, up until December 2012 the fishing on the rivers and drains had been slow, not helped by the amount of flood water coming through, and the constant deluge of rain all together made the fishing near impossible, and though the odd double to 17lb had put in an appearance the fishing was slow and I was quickly losing interest in it.
It was during the Christmas holidays that myself and my mate Roger got chatting about the possibility of giving the pit a recce as we had both had enough of struggling on the drains and rivers.

 So on December 27th we headed for our first trip down there, first light found us all set up with 3 rods out each with an array of baits cast out, but there was already a problem, with all the rain we had, had the pit was 3-4 feet higher than usual rendering nearly all of it inaccessible, but we decided to persist as you just never know until you try, anyway, the surface was flat calm and there was a variety of waterfowl everywhere, it was in a word bliss.
We were unsure as what to expect for the day, but we both agreed just to catch would have been a bonus as we were very much fishing blind and it was almost a chuck it and chance sort of attitude.

Just as the sun crept over the horizon behind us one of my microns let out a single beep, I watched the drop back intently and it just slowly dropped back, not 10 minutes in and my large mackerel head cast about 40 yards out had been picked up, we were both shocked at the instant response, and though I pulled out of what felt like a good fish we were never the less in good spirits for the rest of the day. 

Soon after this the same rod was away again and a low double came to the net, the fish had some vivid markings and was in mint condition, probably down to almost zero fishing pressure and the clear water.
The morning passed by with two jacks and another low double to my rods, whereas Roger only managed 2 dropped runs, which was strange considering he was fishing the same as me and using the same baits. 
At some point around midday we noticed that a few baits we had discarded right in the edge in 2 foot of water had gone and as there had been no waterfowl near us meant it had to be a pike responsible, Roger not being slow in coming forward soon had a half mackerel in the edge and not 5 minutes later it was taken by a fish of 15lb which turned out to be the biggest of the day, I added another jack and low double in the afternoon for good measure, we left in high spirits as what to expect in future trips down there.

I was back a few days later on my own as Roger was unfortunately unable to join me, and though I only had an afternoon to fish felt confident as there was a strong southerly wind blowing into the area that I wanted to fish, the pike where on the feed as well as I ended the day with 6 fish to 17lb 4oz and at one point it was difficult to keep 3 rods in the water such was the nature of the feeding.

I returned again 2 days later on my own once again, and though I am aware of not over fishing a spot I was guilty of going over the top, as I'm sure we all have been when we have been struggling then dropped onto some good fishing, anyway I fished hard for the day and again the fish where very obliging, managing 7 fish from 10 runs including 3 different 14lbers, the fish seem to average mid doubles in the pit, but the amount of food fish present leads me to believe that in a few years’ time some of the doubles could grow into bigger fish.

A few days later I was back again, this time with Roger as I had obviously kept him updated as to what I had been catching and he was keen to get down there, the conditions were perfect again and this time we managed to get an equal share of the pike, though he again caught the biggest of the day I certainly was complaining as new fish kept showing up and the doubles seemed to outnumber the jacks which made for good fishing.

I once again returned on my own 2 days later but had decided to fish a new area, the area in question was the entrance to a large bay and though the bay was strictly no fishing you could fish the entrance, though due to the high water levels it meant spending a cold day in waders,, the bay was very weedy and shallow and one rod was cast into it, one rod was cast into the slightly deeper channel in the middle and one rod was cast to the drop off, it was the rod in the deeper channel that produced the three runs which resulted in a dropped run and a brace of 13lbers which was a decent return for my efforts.

I gave the pit a rest for a few weeks after that trip as the rivers and drains had started to fine down and I was determined to take advantage of that, as it happened we only had a brief window of opportunity as soon the snow came down and slowed the fishing right down, I'm glad I did drop onto the rivers though as my only 20 of the season put in an appearance and as it came off a very hard venue I was over the moon, that was my only fish from that window of opportunity as soon the snow came and the fishing died right off and I didn’t even bother with the pit.

Two weeks later the snow had melted though the temperatures hadn’t improved and the rivers and drains where once again coloured, high and running hard which rendered them unfishable, so despite the biting easterly I headed for the pit with very little confidence, once again Roger and myself made the long walk round and were soon fishing in the reliable area and the fish were on the feed, which surprised us both as the water was bloody freezing, I managed to recapture Rogers 15lber from our first trip from exactly the same spot in the edge on the same old half mackerel, though this time she had put on some weight and went 16lb 4oz and was the biggest of the day, I added 3 other doubles that day and Roger had 3 as well, all in all it was good fishing considering the unfavourable conditions.

A week or so later we decided to fish a night on the pit to see if the bigger fish fed at night due to the clear water, we arrived just before dark on the Saturday and got the rods cast out, there was a nice breeze blowing and there was decent cloud cover to keep the temperatures up, an hour or so in though and the breeze died and clouds dispersed and the temperatures plummeted, this was not good as the weather had predicted a mildish night of 6 degrees so we hadn’t bothered with bivvies or sleeping bags, we forced ourselves to continue despite the cold but come first light there was a problem, the whole pit had frozen solid, anything we tried to break the ice failed so we went for a wander to try and warm up, soon though the sun got on the water and a south easterly wind picked up and the ice started to melt quickly. 

In the afternoon a few pike turned up, Roger taking the best fish of a little over 15lb, we felt this just rewards for our determination and left a pair of happy pikers, later that evening on the news we had discovered the temperatures had dropped to minus 9 that night, I vowed there and then to never fish another night in the winter.

We returned again a few days later still hoping for a big fish, but by now the constant cold weather had started to affect the fish and the sport had slowed right up, the usual dozen runs in a day had gone and I only managed a solitary run for a low double on a long range half mackerel, Roger faired a little better with a jack and 2 low doubles, one of them being a fish with have called the mug as she just wouldn’t leave us alone.
I then once again gave the pit a rest and ended the season on my favourite river, its somewhere I always end the season and a nice fish of 16lb brought the curtain down on a very challenging river season.

Soon the pit was calling me again as it closed at the end of March for fishing and we were both hoping to get a big fish just before they spawned, the conditions were perfect with a strong south westerly putting a nice chop on the surface, we have found these to be the best conditions on there, and though fishing into such a wind is not nice we are more than prepared to do it for the fishing is always good when we get these conditions.

The day was a success with a lot of fish turning up, I managed 4 fish to 15lb, while Roger had several to 15lb as well, but the day was most memorable for Rogers other half Kayla, who joined us for the day and was duly rewarded with a new pb of 16lb 4oz.

We planned to have one last trip the following weekend, and had arranged to meet up and with a friend of ours there who had struggled to catch much the previous winter, we had promised him a good days fishing as the weather was forecast to be perfect again, we awoke early in the morning to get there for first light, but all was not well, and that was me, I knew as soon as I woke I was ill but tried to ignore it as I was desperate to fish, we arrived and early and walked round to the swims, but by this stage I was feeling really rough and had no desire for the fishing.
I tried to soldier on but in the end I had to throw the towel in and leave, I was disappointed as I was confident of catching, and was even more disappointed when I received a phone call from Roger later in the day, and he recounted the day’s action to me, they both finished up with several fish to 17lb, the fish were really on it that day, possibly feeding up prior to spawning, to say I was gutted would be an understatement and I had already hatched a plan to fish it the first weekend in April, despite the fact the lake was by then closed to fishing.

We turned up early that morning for what would definitely be our last session on there until the following winter, it certainly didn’t feel like April though when we turned up as the thermometer in the car read minus 6 and we were not sure what to expect action wise, confidence was further knocked when we turned up to find the water level had been dropped by 2 feet to try and get the sunken islands uncovered for the birds to nest on, anyway we soldiered on and struggled, we had the odd finicky run we  put down to the fish either spawning or being right on the verge of spawning and therefore not really interested in food.

The day wore on the sun came out and it developed into a nice day and eventually Roger managed a proper take on a long range half mackerel, which we have found to be the most reliable bait on there, the fish weighed 12lb or so but was the length of a fish double that weight, whether she had just spawned or was an old fish we don’t know, but there was obvious signs of her being recently grabbed by a much larger fish judging by the size of the jaw marks, this has given us confidence for next season that there is a real lump in those 85 acres of water somewhere, just after that capture, to our despair a couple of jet ski’s turned up and we knew that was that for this season on there.

The jet ski’s showed a total lack of care to our presence and despite us occupying a very small area of the pit then persisted in running over the area we were fishing, this was clearly done on purpose and despite venting our feeling they continued and needless to say it ruined the fishing and we moved onto one of the other pits on the complex.

So there we go, the season up until December looked bleak for me, but by always having a backup plan you can catch fish even where conditions seems terrible, if it hadn’t been for the pit I probably would have given up by the new year, and though nothing really big showed up it was a new challenge and has fired me up for next winter on there.

David Vassiere

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A Natural Progression ? - Peter Webster

ImageMy earliest angling recollections as a youngster are from when I was around seven or eight years of age, I would take my late Dad his flask of tea to him where he had been night fishing for Tench on a local railway pond, owned by the mining company Cementation, this involved a walk of around a mile or so, through the local estate (housing not country), in those days children were safer than in today’s world, or were we?, I grew up quickly and was probably a lot more street wise than today’s eight year olds so any dodgy looking bloke offering sweets, or the chance to see some puppies, would have probably got the V’s, even at that age.

What I do remember was the first time I saw the Tench my Dad had caught during the previous night; they were as black as coal, probably due to the clinker lined pond situated right at the side of the Doncaster to Leeds railway line. These Tench were not large by today’s standards, probably around the 5lb mark, but to an impressionable eight year old they were mightily impressive and even today, just months from my 50th birthday I can still see them in my mind’s eye, looking back I now realise these, and a near 20lb Pike caught from the same pond by my father’s friend,” Uncle Barry to me” who was bailiff on the Cemmo , were the first seeds sown that years later would drag me into the world of the Specimen Angler.

My Dad was a typical hard drinking miner, consequently mine and my siblings early childhood were not easy, not to mention my poor Mam who had to scrape what she could together to provide for four hungry kids, it was a hard life and I can well remember hiding under the table with my mother and sisters when the Rent was due and someone was knocking on the door.

Despite my father’s failings it is definitely where I get my love of Nature and the countryside from, on the odd occasion he would take me bird nesting from a very early age, a common practice in those days and one that I carried on in to my teens amassing a nice collection and I make no apologies for enjoying this pastime, even if at a later age I could see the other side of the argument. I would be bursting with excitement when a frosty Sunday morning came around hoping for a very rare offer of a morning’s Ferreting to look forward to, rare because most of Dad’s ferreting was what could loosely be described as poaching, and a small child is a bit of a hindrance in such situations.

I can never remember going fishing with my dad other than a couple of hours on the “Cemmo” pond after I had delivered his flask, due to this I recall a couple of friends and I would sneak on there and after scrounging around for some old discarded line and a hook we would dig up some worms and dangle them under the landing stages trying to catch the Perch that hung out in the shadows of the boards, this form of fishing was termed “Pimping”, an unfortunate phrase but what did we know at our age.

On one particular Sunday evening I remember begging my Mam if I could go out for half an hour, even though I had just had my Sunday night bath, which I always had to have, whether I needed it or not, of course she relented and I and a friend snuck of to the Cemmo for a spot of Pimping, we were so engrossed, lying down on the boards peering into the water, straining our eyes in the search of a stripy, that we didn’t notice the bloke sneaking up on us until it was too late, “Peter is that you” came a booming voice from behind, my heart sank as I recognised the voice of uncle Barry, and I turned around almost in tears as I realised I would be in big trouble now, we had managed to drop the line in the water so we explained we were just looking for Perch, and we would never “Pimp” on the Cemmo, after a bit of a rollicking and a promise he would tell my dad I was there we trudged off home, me full of dread fearing a smacked a**e the next time I saw dad, fair play to Uncle Barry, he never did tell dad but I did get a clip round the ear from my Mam for leaving the street so late in the evening. Unfortunately my Dad died when I was Ten years old so that was the end of my fishing experience until my early teenage years.
A couple of years after my Dad died my Mam found love again and the family moved 15 or so miles to another suburb of Doncaster, My stepfather did not share my love of all things nature but he did help build my aviary where I housed my Canaries and Quail, and didn’t even complain when I brought home a varied selection of wild bird chicks such as Magpies, Crows, Kestrel, and Owls.


ImageI soon found my way back into fishing through the local youth club, and a keen teacher who knew the value of keeping young lads busy when they could be up to mischief. Most of the fishing with the youth club was in the guise of small matches between ourselves, but we also had a couple of seasons fishing in the Boys Club where I did become runner up in the all England Boys Club Championships on the River Ancholme.

During my Teens and early 20’s I organised an Angling Club at my place of work, we had monthly matches on venues such as the Trent, Witham and local waters such as the Warping Drain, I also pleasure fished on local waters when time permitted as I had a young family during this period of my life, I then went through a period of very little Angling activity for a number of years as I got seriously into working Terriers, another Field Sport that I think stems from my Fathers influence, I owned, bred, and worked mostly Border Terriers and I still own one to this day, I just wouldn’t be me without a Terrier by my side.
I was probably 40 years old when I seriously started to target Specimens, I had already amassed a decent PB list through my pleasure angling exploits, I was introduced to the Angling Star which ran a competition called the Climax Challenge, an angling competition that allocated points to specimen fish over a certain size, the winner being the one with the most points at the end of the year. This competition gave me a great deal of motivation as it gave me an idea what size of fish I should be aiming to catch, it created a table which was updated monthly and I must admit I used to really look forward to seeing how well I was doing, or maybe even wasn’t doing as well as I thought, the fact you have to travel soon struck home and the costs required far outweighed any rewards gained through the competitions prizes, never the less after a couple of years of plodding along I decided to give it my all and gave myself two years to win the competition.

I did win the Climax Cup the next year, actually winning it on the last day of the competition after a taking big catch of Perch which included a new PB of 4lb6oz, and I must admit I really enjoyed the dashing about, planning which specimen to target that particular week, the venue chosen, then the plan executed to fruition, with a specimen caught, or even a PB fish in the net, something that we big fish anglers strive for. Most northern anglers I would guess are realistic enough to know that you aren’t going to break many National records if you fish North of Leicester, which was the Southern boundary for the Climax Challenge, but to get a Venue record or a PB is their main aim, that was my aim and motivation in any case.


I bowed out of the competition half way through the next year after some silly new rules were introduced which made the competition go off in a different direction, this may have been the final nail in the coffin as it were, as not long after the Magazine sadly folded?.
My Angling at the moment concerns only a couple of Species, spring sees me targeting big Perch on a couple of large Canals local to me, the summertime finds me chasing Carp, Catfish and Rudd on my Syndicate water which is run by Neville Fickling.
The winter is reserved for one species only, and that’s the Pike, earlier in this story I alluded to a near 20lb Pike my Uncle Barry caught from the Cemmo, I only saw a grainy photograph of the fish but I was amazed a fish as big as she was could be found in a water so small and close to home, I told myself there and then I would catch my very own 20lb Pike one day, that desire ebbed and flowed over the years due to circumstances I found myself in, but every time I caught a Pike I remembered Uncle Barry’s Cemmo fish. 
I caught my first 20 from a local drain quite a few years ago now, she weighed spot on the money at 20lb, I had made my way back to the car park by last knockings and I was wobbling a Roach around the two static dead bait rods when I felt a slight grab on the bait, the adrenalin started to pump as I recast the Roach to the same spot, time and time again I recast, all to no avail as she did not provide another chance, not to be out done and as a last resort I repositioned one of the static rods on the spot, the Smelt can’t have hit the bottom as before I could clip up the drop off she was away. 
The fight wasn’t memorable as is often the case with Pike caught in midwinter on a relatively shallow venue and she was soon in the net resting while I got the gear ready for unhooking and a quick photo, much to my annoyance I did not make a very good job of the latter, in my haste and excitement I forgot to place something on the mat such as my rod or the scales to provide some scale to the photo, and to be honest the resulting picture could have been of a fish of any size what so ever, in today’s age of remote control camera’s and a lot more experience on my part I am glad to say this occurrence is a thing of the past, but I must confess it was a lesson I would rather not have gone through with my first ever 20, and you can imagine the leg pulling, good humoured I have to stress, that I had to endure from my fishing mates of the time.


I am not a glory hunter by any stretch of the imagination, that being someone who will fish anywhere and step on any one to catch a known fish, but!! If it is in my area and I do get the right info I may give it the attention it requires, if you know what I mean. Speaking of glory hunters, the world of the Pike angler is said to be full of ruthless cutthroats who will stab you in the back to gain a shred of information pertaining to a 30, but in all honesty, all the lads I have met and fished with have been a pleasure to know, and that includes some of the top Pikers in the country, there is only one rule to follow “you don’t have to tell them owt just to impress them”, if they are good at what they do they probably already know anyway.

If I am honest I like to catch big Pike, that being a fish over 20lb’s, on my doorstep so to speak, one such venue a heavily fished northern canal is five minutes from my front door, and even though it is well past the glory days of old there are still the odd Canal Queens to be had to the Pike Angler who can give the venue the time it requires, and it has been kind to me over the last few years.


There are a couple of small rivers locally that have miles of untapped, or at least seldom fished stretches and it will be here I will be turning my attention to, once the dreaded ice descends and covers the still waters or drains that I fish, it would be nice to think that maybe I could catch a 20 that has never been hooked before, are there still such fish out there in my neck of the woods? Who knows the fun is in the effort for me.

The high point of my Angling adventure to date is the capture of my one and only 30lb+ Pike, and would you believe it she came from the same venue as my very first 20 many years ago, she is a fish I doubt I will ever better, even if I catch a bigger Pike I just don’t believe it will carry the same emotion or, in my own mind Kudos, due to the venue and the fact that I went my own way to catch her when everyone else went in a different direction, literally.


Well I am fast approaching my 50th year on this ever changing island of ours, some of the changes are for the better and some for the worst, for most of that time the Pike has been persecuted mercilessly, during my childhood smaller fish were regularly taken by my father, and no doubt thousands of others, for the pot, then it was the match Angler’s and club’s turn to be the villain, tossing any, and every Pike caught, up the bank, but with the advent of the PAC most clubs and some individuals can be shown the error of their ways through education, even up to last year the problem was still occurring on one of my local waters, the Pike though is still here, and thriving, hopefully they can withstand the current onslaught that is affecting some of our waters at the moment. I don’t just mean the immigrant population either, today there are a damn sight more Pike anglers around, and the one thing some big Pike can’t handle is angling pressure.

Let’s hope Pike anglers out there remember what they are handling if they do manage to catch their dream fish, that fish has possibly been through the hands of many anglers during its life and its only there for you to catch because they have treated it with care and respect, please treat it the same way and return her safely to possibly make another angler’s dreams come true.

Just remember it’s all about the fish, yes, we do have to stick hooks in their mouths before we can enjoy their company, but after that they deserve the utmost care we can give them.

My one true regret In angling is the fact my Lad Daniel has no interest in angling what so ever, and at 22 years of age I stopped trying to cajole him into accompanying me years ago, obviously I blame his mother.

Tight Lines
Pete Webster