Its been a mixed few weeks
Good day everyone, I'm back after a break. I missed the last few days of the season as I was in Dubai with my daughter and her family. What made this visit a very special one was young Samuel James was taken off oxygen just before Christmas. Having been born premature, it was nice to see him starting to crawl around and during my stay I was able to see him stand up and walk a few steps. Though he only weighs 16lb at 15 months of age. I reckon when I visit Dubai again in October November he will be up and running. Hopefully I will have him down on the creek catching some small fish. During my stay in Dubai I caught a lot of snappers averaging 3lbs, these fish look like a big perch and are great fighters. During my stay I was invited to be one of the Ambassadors for the Angling Trust which I accepted. Itís the only voice that angling has, and I reckon with Martin Salter involved it will get a better and higher profile.
Since I arrived home from Dubai I've been working on some At the Water's Edge programmes and doing some charity work. 4th April I attended Region 31 of the PAC in Wigan to present their awards for the past season, I really enjoyed the occasion also meeting some very old friends. It was a great evening. A big thank you has to go to Jon Neafcy the secretary of region 31 for all his hard work. I'm pleased to say that two of my hedgehog homes have residence, hopefully there will have some young hog lets, the number of hedgehogs are down about 20% over the past few years. All my nest boxes are occupied by blue tits, great tits and a robin. The jay has been calling into the garden every day looking for food. Sadly most of the tadpoles have been eaten by the blackbirds. Next year I will cover the pond with a net. I've enjoyed the occasional dayís trout fishing, but the rain we are getting is stopping me from trout fishing most days, but the rain is most welcome, hopefully it will continue for many weeks. Last week I had a good rest with some old army and security service friends in Devon. We had planned to fish for a week, but all the rivers were in full spate. We told a lot of tales, they consumed a lot of cider and cognac. As I don't drink I could keep them all in line. It was nice watching the rain fall, but remember most of the rain will get used up by the trees shrubs plants etc. Hopefully the Kennet, Loddon, Colne, Ouse and other rivers will have a good flow for next season. Don't com0plain about the rain, we need all we get.
This week has been a busy but successful one, most days the river had extra water making it unsuitable for fly fishing, though on the odd occasion when I could fly fish. I was lucky to catch a few browns fishing the upstream nymph. Not my favourite way of angling. I much prefer the dry fly. On Tuesday I spent a few hours teaching three disable people to cast a fly which was most satisfying. They all agreed it had been a good day. I even cooked eggs, bacon and beans for their lunch. As I get older I get even more pleasure helping newcomers to the sport of angling.
On Thursday I had to attend hospital for a series of test and x-rays in the area of my colon. Over the past few weeks I've been in a lot of pain so after several visits to my doctor I was sent to the hospital. I now wait for the results. I will then know what I have to cope with. As we get older the body wears out so itís just another health problem. When I look back at some of the scary situations I've been in I consider myself very lucky that I can still get out fishing. I reckon angling is the best thing we can teach young and old.
This morning Friday I was on the river around 7 o'clock checking my mink and grey squirrel traps. I had one squirrel which was quickly dispatched. Having walked the full length of my river it was time for breakfast, I soon had a large bowl of porridge followed by tea and toast. I then made my way downstream to a small copse, on hands and knees I crawled into the hide making myself comfortable. With binoculars I scanned the trees and bushes looking for predators everything looked peaceful. An hour or so later I watched a good salmon probably twenty pounds crash out of the water. If the river had been a foot lower that fish would have been catchable on a fly. Then out of the corner of my eye I spotted a grey squirrel slowly crawling down a nearby beech tree. It was about fifteen feet away from a nesting blue tit. As I lifted the rifle I switched off the safety catch, and then slowly moved up the predator until its head was in the cross-hairs. I held my breath then gently squeezed the trigger. Another predator that wouldn't steal any more eggs or take young song birds.
Twenty minutes later I heard a commotion coming from the direction of a ducks nest, peering through the branches I could see a mink ready to attack. Slowly and quietly I lifted the rifle as I sighted on the pest, moving the barrel along its body until the cross-hairs were in the centre of its head, I gently squeezed the trigger. It was a clean kill, in its last movements it jumped about three feet off the ground before falling back dead. Thankfully today several of the angling clubs who are members of the Ribble Fisheries are now operating mink traps on the river for this biggest predator in the countryside. So more ground nesting and song birds will survive.
June 16th isn't far off and I have started looking at various venues, I was lucky to get a week at Redmire from September 16th and this year is the 60th Anniversary of Walkers 44lb record fish, so making it a bit more special. I have given the first three days free of charge to Mike Evans who is the Ross AC bailiff. Mike lives in Ross and has wanted to fish the water for years but has never been successful in the draw. Having been there on several occasions I felt I should give him some of my days at the water. I will go and fish the River Wye. Colour Sgt Tam Miller has always wanted to visit the water so he will get a day at the venue.
June 16th I will be fishing a gravel pit in Gloucestershire for tench, rudd and perch; this water has a close season from March 15th until June 15th both days inclusive. So really looking forward to this trip more so as June 16th will be even more special for me. Over the past few weeks I've been playing around with some of the snails and mussels from Pallatrax, which are re-hydrated before use, but what makes them even better is you can flavour and colour them. I've been dropping them into a local still water where I can sit and watch the reaction of the fish. Itís all been very positive. When my local river has been flowing clear I've chucked mussels and snails to the chub, I was amazed at how quickly the chub grabbed these food items. I reckon there are good prospects for these baits.
This years Barbel Society Conference will be on Sunday 3rd June, Pallatrax will have a stand where I will spend some time signing my book At The Water's Edge, I will also have a few of the limited signed editions in a slip case. On the Pallatrax stand they will have the new baits along with the various boilies and pastes. I rate the Pallatrax cheese paste, though I change it a bit by adding some oil, cheese glug and some Danish blue. In its natural form itís too stiff to fish directly on the hook, you need to hair rig it. When fishing for chub with a hair I reckon you will miss some bites, my cheese paste is very soft and perfect as a hook bait.