Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Fishing Diary March 2012 Part 2

Friday, 16th March Twin Lakes, West Ashby

I signed off last time promising to visit this venue to target its Bream and Tench. To be honest I wasn't really looking forward to it. The lakes are part of some old gravel workings (the others form another fishing complex to the west). The other complex also has some big bream and I've fished the big lake there many times which more often than not resulted in a blank.

My only previous experience of Twin Lakes was a short spinning session for perch a couple of winters ago. "Any pike in the lakes?" I enquired to the owner as I handed over my fiver. "No, no Pike in either" came the reply. No need for a trace then I thought as I wandered over to the smaller pit. First cast in with my favourite jig and a Pike appeared from the depths and bit it clean off! I did see a perch that day but I think it was just trying to make friends with my jig as it was about the same size. Probably glad of some company I thought as I packed up and left.

Fast forward to the present and I decided to just try and catch something and then go from there. I took a couple of pints of red maggots and some worms. Since the addition of some shredded paper and about 50 egg shells from the cafe at work my worms are really thriving in my recycling bin. Anyway I set up near to the golf clubhouse and had a cast with a small maggot feeder while I set up my pole. To my utter amazement the tip went round after about 2 minutes! Missed it but it must have been small because only one maggot on my size 14 was damaged. Out again and a bite came straight away. A tiny roach came to hand and I got the keepnet out. Another roach quickly followed but again only small. On went a worm. I'd nearly got my pole set up when it wrapped round again. This is better I thought as I struck into something more substantial. A Perch! Bloody hell, I can't go anywhere without catching a stripey. I was fully prepared for a blank and I couldn't believe it was so easy.

Another worm went out and I cupped in a big pot of maggots at about 4 meters in readiness for a go on the float. Bloody deep even at close range I thought as I plumbed up. Depth sorted and on went two red maggots. I swung the rig out and the float disappeared before it had time to settle. A small roach was the culprit. The next couple of hours were hectic with bites coming thick and fast on the pole. The bailiff  Gary appeared and we had a quick chat. He fishes it all the time and I have seen pictures of him with a big bream and tench so I bombarded him with questions. It wasn't all good- in all the time he has fished it he has only had the one bream, 11lb. The Tench seem more prolific and he's had them to 9lb. He did say though that he often caught big roach on 15mm boilies! "Dunno how big, never weigh em" he said as he sauntered off back to the clubhouse.

I got back to my fishing and had a couple of decent Roach on pieces of worm and as the light faded I vowed to return with some hemp and corn to try and target the bigger ones properly .

Thursday 22nd March Twin lakes , West Ashby

Bit of a family trip this one as I was accompanied by Mrs P and our two seven month old Labradors aka the chaos twins. Fishing isn't all about results, sometimes its just nice to get out. I knew it wouldn't be a serious attempt to crack this new venue but anything was better than the never ending renovation of our lounge.
I was a bit disappointed to see the lake. It was very choppy where I had fished the first time and the whole of the near bank was out of the question. Luckily Gary let us drive around to the back of the lake and I set up in relative shelter while Mrs P walked the chaos twins.

I cupped in a load of hemp and liquidised corn just off a near bank tree and set up my rig. On my first three put ins I came back with three branches! Bollocks. I always do this. I must get in the habit of plumbing up before I put a bed of feed in. Fishing slightly further out from the tree was better and I started catching small roach again. Mrs P appeared with dogs and sat behind me. After a while I tried some hemp and got a bite straight away. Unfortunately it seems Twin Lakes is one of those annoying venues where even the small roach love hemp. After more small roach and a few missed bites I tried corn but to no avail. By this time Mrs P was getting restless.

With some persuasion she took over the fishing duties. A good angler Mrs P. Annoyingly so. She fished maggot which was cheating in my book. Roach after roach came swinging in. "I could beat you in a match" she claimed. Not if you accidentally drown with my foot on your head I thought to myself. One of the Labs, Daisy became fascinated by what she was doing.

A better view?

I'll watch the float then!

I did manage the best fish of the day on the tip and corn. A roach of about a pound came in stubbornly as Mrs P and Daisy messed around with their little tiddlers. Kudos restored.
PS. She is wearing my XXL Jacket which is not very flattering!

Tuesday 27th March Twin Lakes, Horncastle

 Hottest day of the year so far! Mrs P was at the races which meant I had the chaos twins. We got to lake at around 1pm with the intention of catching some bigger Roach. The dogs were reasonably well behaved all day although there was nearly an incident involving Daisy and a grass snake. As for the fishing? I'll let the pictures tell the tale-


Doing this blog has meant trying to catch something worthwhile to show you. Hence the reason for trying this new lake. Whilst I haven't caught anything that will make the angling times I have found a wonderful place that I wouldn't have tried otherwise. Winning matches, catching PB's is nice but sometimes just being out there is more than enough. So thank you. Rob Thompson, Rob Mastin, Tony Gunson and everyone else that is following me but keeping quiet! Till next time. Phil.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Fishing Diary March 2012

Thought I'd give you a quick update as tomorrow is the final day of the traditional fishing season.

Wed 7th March  Partney Brick Pit

A quick trip down to the pit with my new box of lures and jigs from America proved unsuccessful. I only stopped for an hour. A biting wind made for uncomfortable fishing plus I never even had so much as a follow.

Thurs 8th March  The Secret River, Lincs

I'm in the process of renovating my house so I planned a well deserved afternoon off to go down to the river. A quick call to Ernie and we arranged to meet at 12.30. By the time I had reached the river Ernie was already set up. He wasn't alone either. Scot had come along and two other local anglers were there too. This left little room for me but thankfully Ernie and Scot had left the bridge swim free. The river was up and coloured, lapping over the small walkway under the bridge. I walked carefully along and quietly placed my gear down. Setting up my seat and keepnet I settled into my chair with Ernie and Scot in view further downstream.

First job was to pot in some groundbait and chopped worm down the side. The river was pulling well so I made up 4 hard balls and cupped them in. Leaving these to settle I set up my tip rod. Garbolino Maxim Carp. Brilliant rod this. Ridiculously cheap and very forgiving. I light link was tied and a size 12 wide gape specialist hook was baited with a worm. 20 years ago I converted to barbless hooks for most of my fishing but when ledgering worms I use barbed just so I know my bait is still on. I cast it over to the far bank and put the rod on the rest. I wasn't too hopeful to be honest as I could see the others were struggling for a bite. The sun came out briefly as I set up my pole and had a few runs down over my groundbait. Nothing. Not even a knock.

The old git across the river was mooching up and down, his Geese making a right old racket and spoiling the peace. Tap, tap. Was that a bite? The tip went again and I struck into something substantial. "Here he goes" Ernie shouted. After a short battle a bristling Perch surfaced. "Fucking Hell!" I said involuntarily. It was a biggie. Ernie and Scot came over for a look. Their reaction was much the same. I quickly weighed it. 3lb exactly. I cast out again and had another bite almost straight away. I stuck again and another Perch came in stubbornly. A bit smaller this one. 2lb 8oz. I suggested to Scot that he move upstream to just below the bridge and he went back to get his gear. Ernie stopped with me for a while but no more bites were forthcoming. "What line are you on?" Asked Scott. "Don't know, been on my reel ages" I replied. Must change that I thought as I waited for my next bite. It didn't come. Ernie was catching a few tiny roach and dace on his feeder bomb but Scot remained biteless. They stopped for a couple of hours before they packed up and left me to it.

I had planned to stop till dark so I moved down to the end of the stretch, a spot I've always had high hopes for. It always looks great and as the bridge swim had died I thought it was worth a go. First put in and a little roach came to the net. Promising. Now this stretch is only a couple of miles from the sea and it's flow is controlled somewhere lower down. Whatever they did it made the river flow upstream shortly after my second put in. I couldn't believe it and it signalled the end of the action for the day. Looks the part though-

The 13th March  The Secret River,  Lincs

Another afternoon session I was really looking forward to it. The river was in poor condition on the last trip and after virtually no rain I was confident it would be better this time. I loaded up the van and stopped off at the garage for some supplies. A diversion delayed me for a while but I eventually found my way to the river. As it came in to view my heart sank. Not as high as the previous time but just as coloured and lots of flotsam floating down.

I set up and a few fish moving about spiked my confidence for a while but after only one small roach in three hours I decided to head back towards home for the last couple of daylight hours at Woodlands. I headed to Ash and settled down to see if I could finally nail one of the big resident perch. Two Carp and a few Rudd later I did land a Perch but it was only about a pound and a quarter. Check out the state of the river-

Future plans

My work is changing quite a bit this year so I am going to have to go out whenever I can, even if it is only for a couple of hours. I've got my eye on a couple of Lakes about ten miles away with some big Bream and Tench in. Its bloody hard going by all accounts but I hope to have a couple of sessions there before the end of the month. Watch this space. In the meantime it's back to sanding my lounge beams, oh joy. 

Monday, 5 March 2012

Fishing Diary February 2012

February 2012

Pro Bass World, International Drive, Florida

The first stop before any fishing trip abroad is the local tackle shop. This being the US of A the local tackle shop was rather large (150,000 square feet). Think your local B and Q depot and you'll have some idea of size. It is my favourite shop in the world. The counter in the middle of the fishing section is a large rectangular affair which harbours hundreds of reels. Isles and Isles of equipment all topped with fully laden rod racks stretch as far as you can see. A big fish tank sits in the middle of the shop with trophy sized bass and some tarpon swimming around it. You have to focus when you are in there otherwise you can lose half a day just looking around! A few weights, hooks and a bag of chicken liver and blood flavoured catfish bait was purchased before Mrs P quickly ushered me out. 

Shadow Bay Park, Turkey Lake Rd, Orlando, Florida

Situated a short distance behind Universal Studios is Shadow Bay Park. A recreational facility consisting of three fishing lakes, a nature trail and some tennis courts. Lupine Pond is the biggest at around 8 acres and is stocked annually with channel catfish. The last time I fished here in 2006 they had two automatic fish feeders which activated late in the afternoon. The fish were easy to catch when these went off as the cats went into a feeding frenzy!

Mrs P and I arrived at around 3pm after a hard days clothes shopping. Dashboard temperature 29 Degrees! The tackle was quickly removed from the boot of the car and we walked down to the waters edge. A quick scan around and I realised the fish feeders had been removed. We walked down the bank a short distance when Mrs P let out a yelp."Look.....a gator!" She exclaimed. I looked into the clear, shallow water and sure enough there was an Alligator. Only a baby one about 2 feet long but a gator none the less. (In 2006 I lost my only float in this Lake. Decent floats are hard to come by in Florida so I went in after it. The next day I saw an Alligator about 5 feet long just past where I had been swimming). "Shall we go back this way?" I suggested. "Good Idea" Mrs replied.

New to the lake were two aerators about 70 yards out. We settled in front of one of these. Two telescopic rods had travelled with us along with a pair of smallish baitrunners. My 9ft Red Wolf rod cost about £6 ten years ago and this was it's second trip to America. Made of fibreglass it was still fairly light but more importantly virtually indestructible. Mrs P's rod was shorter at 6ft 6 and slimmer. I bought this one in Italy a couple of years back for her birthday, I know, she's a lucky girl. They both packed down to around 18 inches so were easily carried in a suitcase. Setting both rods up I cast out two light ledgers towards the feature. I only had 1/4 ounce bombs and with the heavy catfish paste I couldn't cast very far, maybe 30 yards. I propped the rods up at an angle, resting them on my shimano cool bag which had doubled up as my hand luggage.

Sitting on our Virgin flight blankets we basked in the late afternoon sun. "What are they" Mrs P enquired pointing skywards. I looked up and saw several dark coloured Eagle type silhouettes. Now you may be aware by now of my legendary bird knowledge. "Black Eagles" I proclaimed confidently. We watched them soaring on the thermals, wings hardly moving. Turns out I was right. Look them up on you tube- shadow bay park eagles. As we watched a small bluish egret type bird landed a short distance away on the waters edge. If it was fishing it was hopeless! It stomped around excitedly looking into the water. Any small fish that were warming themselves in the shallows soon retreated to a safe distance. After 5 minutes or so of comically nosing around the margins it flew off  fish-less. A bite! The tip of my rod bounced around and I struck.........bollocks! Missed it.

A couple of hours passed and Mrs P retreated to her book. A tanned park ranger came speeding into view. His quad bike tilted alarmingly as he descended towards us. "Park closes in 15 Min's you guys" he advised. I had another quick cast to no avail and we packed away our things. Just like the Egret we had caught nothing.

The Atlantic Ocean, Cocoa Beach, Florida

Shut up and fish was more like the tackle shops back home. A quaint little shop with a really helpful proprietor. A rugged, outdoorsy type bloke his face and arms were well weathered. We instantly struck up a kind of fishing rapport and I left with some weights, bait and a jovial promise of some photo's for his picture board.

The only thing that has changed about Cocoa Beach in the last 20 years is it's location (I'm joking). I felt sure I knew how to get to the car park behind the pier but got lost for a bit before finding it about  a mile away from where I remembered. We walked away from the pier and numerous surfers to settle in a quieter spot about a quarter of a mile away. I quickly set up my rod with a 2 ounce pyramid weight and baited a 1/0 hook with a whole shrimp. Walking out into the surf I cast as far as I could. The weight dug into the sand and I held the rod rod waiting for a bite. It came fairly quickly and I struck......nothing! This happened a couple more times before I headed up the beach to try Mrs Ps' rod which was more sensitive. I set this up with a smaller weight and a smaller hook.

Walking back into the surf and cast half a shrimp with a gentle lob. The bite was more positive on the slimmer rod and I was soon into a fish. A small whiting was the culprit. Not like the whiting back home these were a pretty barbel type fish with a white/silver sheen and black tipped fins. I caught countless more whiting over the next couple of hours before the heat became too much for me and the saltwater became too much for my baitrunner. The salt had been forced into my prized reel (a limited edition bought by Mrs P for my previous birthday) by the waves and it temporarily seized. We gathered up our things and retired to the pier bar.

Indian River Lagoon, Florida

On the way back to Orlando we stopped alongside a road bridge that spanned a section of the Indian River Lagoon. Over 150 miles long this Lagoon encompasses Mosquito Lagoon, Banana and Indian rivers to form a massive estuary environment. The lagoon is home to up to 800 dolphins at any one time and hundreds of Manatees.

We parked in a small car park and wandered over to the waterside. I cast a small piece of shrimp out into the Lagoon and it was taken immediately by a hard fighting Pin fish. A type of sea bream, these angry fish certainly put up an impressive fight for their modest size. Apart from a stray crab (which the locals found highly amusing) I caught a Pin fish on every cast. This was despite a Cormorant hunting around where I was fishing. Mrs P even got in on the action while I roamed about trying to catch something else on a floating plug. With the sun sinking into the horizon I packed away the rods and we headed back to the hotel.

Atlantic Ocean, Playalinda Beach

We headed east towards Titusville. "Got to find a tackle shop" I informed Mrs P. She replied with a shake of the head, knowing it would involve getting lost again. Luckily we came across The Bait Shack without even deviating from our course. Proper oldie worlde wooden shack by the side of the main road. I bought a couple of packs of frozen shrimp and stocked up on food and drink at a nearby 7-11. This was perhaps the funniest day of the holiday but I'll save those bits for the last part of my holiday blog. Basically we ended up in Merritt Island National Park right next to Canaveral Foreshore.

Finding a quiet-ish part of the beach I set up my gear while Mrs P dived into a new book. The scene to my left was one of seemingly endless fishermen with their rods high in the air. Looking right was more spectacular. Two massive launching pads were visible in the distance along with various NASA buildings. This was Cape Canaveral. Scenery aside the fishing was much the same as Cocoa Beach only the whiting were bigger. I did see a big Spanish Mackerel break the surface and had a few casts with a floating plug but with no success. The hooded Chinese bloke next to me caught a decent Pompano which spurred me on for a bit. A string of whiting followed upto maybe a pound. After a couple of hours the sun and waves were taking their toll on me. Mrs P was getting a bit hot too so we retreated to Mosquito Lagoon a short walk away. You can tell how much time I spent in the surf by the colour of my legs!

Mosquito Lagoon, Florida

A large verandah stretched out a short distance into the Lagoon. At the end was a long bench seat which we settled on. The lagoon may be 150 miles long but is very shallow. Luckily I'd bought some weird looking floats from Pro Bass World. They had a strange spring type device for attaching them to the line. After a while I worked it out and baited my hook with a small piece of shrimp. Casting around 20 yards it settled nicely before disappearing! A short tussle later and a pin fish came to hand. It spiked me with it's dorsal fin when unhooking it. Little bastard I thought as I returned it to the lagoon. A bite a cast for the next hour was fun but pain full. I missed 3 out of 4 but was pleased to also land a Trout among the pin fish. The Americans call them trout but they looked more like our sea bass. Here is Mrs P on the bench reading her book in the late afternoon sun.

Shadow Bay Park

I'll be honest here and say I visited Lupine pond about five times over the two week holiday. Sometimes only for an hour but I learnt something every time. Settling in front of the left hand aerator I tied two small leads onto a short link. Mrs P wandered off  round the scary looking nature trail. She was still just in sight when she shouted something I couldn't quite hear. Pointing in the water I sussed she'd come across another Gator. Good luck I thought as I cast out a good 60 yards right into the bubbling water. After trying all sorts of things over the last two weeks this was the first time I had come equipped to reach the aerators. Resting my rod on my bag I set up my other one, or at least tried too! Before I even got the line through the rings my rod tip was bouncing around and I struck into something weighty. Rather like a carp fight it gave me the run around for a bit before I beached a nice cat of around three pounds. I wasn't helped by my increasingly unreliable reel. Despite flushing them in tap water my saltwater forays had buggered them up. The spool wouldn't go up and down under pressure and the drag was all to cock. This wouldn't have been too bad but I couldn't disengage the anti-reverse.

Despite my poorly reel I banked 9 more cats in the next hour before Mrs P returned with tales of Gopher Tortoises and Alligators. I could have continued catching but didn't want to take the piss time wise with Mrs P. Plus I wanted a go at another pond on site that housed some Bass. The Americans are Bass crazy. They have pros that earn millions of dollars in Bass Tournaments all over the country. Rather like our Perch they grow bigger but are dull in colour and to my mind no more impressive than a catfish. In Shadow Bay Pond I did see a Bass and it saw my lure, that was the closest I came to catching one. I only stopped for around half an hour as Mrs P had returned to the car, air conditioning on, cooling her in the 31 degree heat. Here's a kitten, imagine a fifty pounder!

Some Facts

There are over 30 thousand lakes in Florida. The biggest is Lake Okeechobee at 448 000 acres! You may have fished or cycled round Rutland water which is regarded as very large in England. Rutland water is 3,300 acres. Combine this with countless rivers and saltwater opportunities and you could spend many lifetimes fishing there. It is also said that every body of water has at least one resident Gator. There are upwards of a million Gators in Florida so some lakes have many more. You have been warned.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Fishing Diary January 2012

Thurs 5th January

The Secret River, Lincolnshire

I arrived at the river to find Ernie already set up on the tail end of a big bend. The wind was strong but we were reasonably sheltered. The river in question is one of Lincolnshire's only chalk streams (the spot we found in best plans). I looked downstream of Ernie where I had fished before but the water was too choppy so I settled above Ernie at the start of the bend where the water was calmer. I had caught some roach on the previous trip but small ones while using maggots. My approach today would be to try to catch some bigger fish on bread.

From my position I could see upstream a fair distance to the road bridge where strangely enough there were two people fishing directly opposite each other immediately above the bridge. While setting up I happened to glance up and see the angler on the opposite bank to mine playing what looked like a decent fish. He netted it and then disappeared from view. About a minute later he returned to the waterside with a carrier bag which contained a large red finned fish! Was this a fabled 2lb Roach? Certainly looked like a roach and he had obviously weighed it. It could have been a chub but it surely wouldn't be worth weighing if it was. He returned the fish and I kept a close eye on him and his partner. They were both ledgering with lightish links. After about half an hour he hooked into another fish and repeated the process. I mentioned it to Ernie and he said they had also caught one before I arrived. Got to be roach I thought to myself as he returned it to the water. In contrast I had yet to get a bite! Ernie was catching a few but only small stuff.

We carried on for couple of hours in which time the two anglers above had left. By now the wind was worsening by the minute and Ernie was really suffering. It had swung round and my peg went from a light ripple to full-blown waves. "Sod this Ern, I'm off up to the bridge, it looks a bit calmer up there". Now I don't usually like fishing spots straight after someone else but to be honest I only stopped because Ernie was with me and he was keen to continue. I settled above the bridge while Ernie stayed below it. The wind had really knocked my enthusiasm and I decided to be a bit lazy. I chopped up some worms and potted them in just over the near side reedbed. Baiting up with a whole worm on an 16, I lowered it gently over the reedbed and rested my top three on the reeds.

It was a real sun-trap where I was. This combined with my new Preston 3 in 1 celsius suit and my christmas boots from Mrs P I drifted off into a light snooze. I woke with a start. My float moved. I was sure of it. This reminds of the time I was travelling to a rugby match and the guys tried to draw a comedy moustache on me while I slept. Every time they got close with the marker pen I'd just open one eye. Not saying I have super powers or anything but it is a bit weird. I quickly re-cast. Watching the float this time it twitched and then sailed under! Striking hard the elastic shot out (number 6- far to light)."What you got there Mr Taylor?" shouted Ernie. I smacked my pole tip against the bridge trying to control my angry opponent. After a couple of minutes a big stripey appeared on the surface right in front of me. I netted it first go and excitedly readied the scales. 2lb 12oz. Wont be alone I thought. My rig was swapped to a heavier elastic (14). I dropped in a fresh worm. I studied the float intently as it drifted slowly down the reedbed. It suddenly disappeared from view and I lifted into another angry thumper. "Bloody hell Mr Taylor, turning out to be a good day" I heard Ernie declare. 2lb 5oz. I added another couple of smaller perch and a good roach as the light faded on bread. Good day indeed.

Tues 10th January

The Secret River, Lincolnshire

I awoke quite late at around 10am. Now I love fishing but going all day is too much sometimes even for me. A short afternoon session was the order of the day. With the van loaded up I set off towards Skegness to get some bait. Probably a fifteen mile detour and a real pain! However it meant approaching the river via the drain Tony had told me about in best plans. Can't hurt to have a look I thought as I turned off into the field next to the drain. A quick look and it was carrying a little colour and flowing this time.-perfect. To cut a long story short exactly the same thing happened as last time. Ten fish in ten casts and then nothing! After an hour it was time to move on.

Arriving at the chalk stream I found two anglers fishing where Ernie and I were the last time. No probs I thought, I'll go by the bridge again. The sun came out and it was really mild for January. I potted some ground-bait down the middle and chopped worms in the edge. The first hour was slow but there were fish topping occasionally and a couple of pike striking further down. A change from maggot to worm brought instant results. Another big perch came fighting all the way to the net. This was the start of a precession of perch and roach from about 20 feet under the bridge. I had a rig in where I had caught the perch before but this was stationary for most of the time. As the light faded the river really came alive. It was like a spring evening. Everywhere you looked fish were topping. The pike strikes also got more frequent with them seemingly every ten yards or so. One even attacked a fish close to me but on the opposite bank. As it returned to the depths it slapped it's tail on the side of the bridge which startled me a little. A txt was sent to Ken, a friend from work and a Pike nut! By the end of the session I had caught 30 perch and roach. Two perch over 2lb and a Roach just over a pound were the highlights.

Thurs 12 January

Woodlands Fishery, Lincs

"I'll follow you down Phil, I haven't walked the lakes today." Eric (the fishery owner) declared. This was woodlands, my local complex of five lakes and scene of my best catches this winter with Perch to 3 pounds. We descended the shallow hill towards the back-end of the Hawthorn lake. The water is at its deepest here. The mild weather had disappeared and deep water is usually more productive in the cold. We neared the corner of the Lake and I could see Eric get agitated. "Look...........Look at that" he exclaimed, pointing towards a large scattering of fish scales on the bankside. "An Otter?" I asked. "Yes look, it's spraint" Eric said. He thrust his hand into a small pile of Otter poo, smearing it between his fingers as if the texture confirmed is origins. "The carcass will be round here somewhere, they don't drag em far" Eric shouted as he followed a trail of scales down the bank. I helped him look to no avail and he departed back up the hill shaking his head as he went. The fishing was ok but nothing really of note. Few perch. Biggest 1lb 12oz.

Tues 17 January

The Secret River, Lincs

Ken was due at 9am. Daisy woke me up at 7.30! Whining as she does through the cat flap. I went down and let her and her sister out while I put the kettle on and tried not to wake Mrs P as I gathered my gear together. The dogs soon came bounding back in and straight upstairs! They quickly came down again, Daisy with a toilet roll and Harry with a sock. Ken arrived, slithering down the road on his luxury moped. "Bit icy," he declared as he removed his helmet. It was freezing. One of those real deep ground frosts that take ages to thaw. We loaded the van and set off, full of expectation.

I'd been telling Ken for days about the amount of Pike I had seen in this particular stretch. Ken would go after the Pike while I would try again for the perch and roach. We arrived at the river and although nobody was there I could see why. Big patches of ice stretched out into the river. The ground which had been gooey mud last week was frozen solid. Not an inch of give underfoot. The river was fishable in places though and I set up directly above the bridge again. Ken planned to roam around and fish any clear spots. First fifteen minutes were uneventful apart from Ken losing a couple of lures on the far bank. All of a sudden he appeared on the opposite bank, downstream of me and right against a fence going down into the water. I put my finger to my lips as if to say be quiet. He nodded. As he did this a figure came into view behind him. Flat cap and long trench coat he strode towards Ken. "Oi, what are you doing in my garden" Said the old man. "Sorry I didn't realise" Ken explained. "I don't care what you realised, how would you like it, I'm sick of you lot." The old man was clearly annoyed at Ken's unwitting act of trespass. "I'm just retrieving my tackle" Ken declared. "No you're bloody not". This tit for tat continued for a couple of minutes and I was bordering on intervening. It was funny though. Watching Ken shrugging his shoulders and trying to pacify this mad old git. He wasn't really in his garden. The old boy may have owned the land but he was spoiling for a confrontation. In the end Ken had him calm and he even offered to help Ken retrieve his gear!

The fishing was slow so I decided to have a wander about. A short distance upstream I came across another large scattering of scales similar to the scene at woodlands. I picked a couple up and bloody hell they were big. It was almost certainly the work of another otter but what was the fish? The scales really were large but with only a slight raised tip of dark bronze colour. On reflection I think they must have been from a big bream. By big I mean 8lb plus, easily. I returned to the bridge and continued with renewed vigour with the thought of more massive bream swimming about.

As is usually the case when I recommend somewhere to somebody the fishing was terrible. We didn't see a fish all day! Totally unbelievable compared to the week before when the river was alive with fish. We stopped off at the small drain on the way home and I winkled out a few small roach but on the whole a very poor day. Ken kept me entertained though and he said that he had throughly enjoyed it although the fishing was poor and he nearly had a wrestle with an OAP.

That may well be it for January although frost will not be a problem on my next trip!