Thursday, July 21, 2011

If Jesus were a wildfowler

The July weed cut came and went with most scythes on this river standing undisturbed. The local “big fish” water fired up their water borne pantechnicon to snip the ends from some ribbon weed but most river flora was left untouched. Despite the wet weather, the river’s flow continues to diminish and fishing is understandably hard. Evening time has seen some good hatches of Sedge that have induced some feeding activity, and many fish occupying a mid water station and above will look at surface flies both natural and artificial but presentation must be bang on to induce a proper rise. More big Grayling have been caught with several around the two pound mark.
One evening I had a couple of hours on the pond banging out twenty odd Rudd, Roach and Perch on float fished maggot. Brian the brainless bronze bream put in another appearance. Stuck at around four pound he doesn’t put up much of a fight and for all the times that he has been caught he is in pretty good condition. With a perfect mouth and a small scar behind his dorsal fin he is undoubtedly a nice looking fish, just not very bright. I had hoped for a few Tench but was plagued by small perch who even snaffled two grains of sweetcorn fished hard to the bottom. There are a few Crucians Carp in the pond, although none have been caught for a few years. Notorious “home bodys” Crucians do not cruise a pond like Commons or Mirrors but have their local haunts that they stringently stick to. In my youth I fished a shallow marl pit from which we only caught Rudd, until, by accident, fishing hard to a particular reed bed we had an afternoon bagging up on Crucians. None could be caught in any other part of the pond, but pop a float in a particular spot and out would come a six ounce Crucian. I am sure, that given enough time,a similar spot in our pond, where all the Crucians hang out, could be located.

This week I received the gift of Barley. If Jesus had been a wildfowler he would have placed this higher up his wish list than Gold, Frankincense or Myrrh. A tonne of last year’s yellow gold pulled from the bowels of a grain dryer and bagged up in readiness for September when we start feeding ducks into the pond. There are a few Ducks about, and we currently have a few tufties on both the pond and the river, a bit of early feeding could bring an improvement on recent year's sport.


While we are on the colour yellow, in a Sesame street style of way, Hampshire is currently under siege from ragwort. Bright gold and nasty, it is poisonous to all things equine and bovine and has also been linked to some respiratory complaints in human beans. It used to be pulled up, we still pull it up whenever it appears around here, and Hampshire County Council had gangs that were employed to pull it from the roadside. For whatever reason this no longer takes place and ragwort has become firmly established with some roadside verges a swathe of gold.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

They're in, and seeing it like a football!

In the name of cricket we recently had cause to trundle up the Bourne and Wallop Brook valleys, the Wallop brook is underground for a large part of its length and the Bourne unfishable above the Vitacress farm at St Marybourne. The flow on our stretch has reduced even further, a brief stop on returning from a quest for tractor parts to the head of this valley, revealed that the river had all but dried up at the gauging station at Western Colley. Throughout the length of the river, Keepers and Fishery managers are desperately trying to make best use of a diminishing resource, diverting water from minor carriers, closing down hatches, pushing water through stock ponds, allowing the margins to grow in and the weed to break the surface, anything possible to hold the water up.

In cricketing terms some of our fish are now “in” and “seeing it a like a football” Some that were hooked and lost earlier in the season, the equivalent of being dropped in the slips, are a little more cautious but others will rise and nose most offerings rejecting confidently the majority of artificials put in front of them. Some fish have been taken and an improvement in midday hatches of Olives has certainly perked things up, but presentation is still key, lighter lines and smaller flies that settle lightly on the surface reaping rewards whenever fish have been interested. This time last year we had a river full of fish who had become preoccupied with sub surface feeding, a few are currently in this state but most still look up for sustinance, and three days ago, a Grayling of just over two pounds, a big fish for this river, was taken on an Olive Klinkhammer.

The return of the Otters has not helped the fishing, a few half eaten eels and trout on the bank each morning betray their return. We have new batteries on the electric fence around the ponds, and so far the stock fish have been left alone. Video surveillance by a friend on the middle river revealed electric arcs throughout the night as damp Otters made attempts to gain access to ponds guarded by an electric fence. Several hours of video resembled a night in the north taking in the Aurora Borealis, as either an army of Otters nosed at the fence, or several persistence critters kept coming back for more.

We have two large broods of young pheasant in the long grass by the top shallows, I came across one lot dusting on a bit of bank I had scalped with the mower and they didn’t look to be more than a few weeks old. We have a few young ducks about including a bunch of tufties on the pond, much of the juvenile mallard on the river are now three quarter size but not yet independent. Moorhens abound, to Otis’s delight, and we may have to hit them hard this winter. Further down the guest list, Voles are in the house, along with grass snakes, slow worm and millions of Muntjac. In a Moth rich environs the first few funny flutterers are banging around the light shades of an evening and a Nightingale sang its song the other night. On the fruit front, we have trees laden with apples and pears, and Blackbirds grow giddy on the ripe cherries that fall from our tree in the garden, the plum trees however stand like a quartet of eunuchs, four in number and not a plum between them

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tricky Fishing

Fishing for Brown Trout on this stretch of river is currently very challenging, and it has been a few weeks since anyone returned home with their four fish limit. In crystal clear water moving at half revs, the fish get a good long look at what is being offered. Fish have been taken by those who have persevered and fined down their tackle, last evening one of the biggest fish of the season, a tubby Brown of just under five pounds, was taken on a Sedge, a beautiful fish stocked last year or the year before, and worth four fish in May. Several large Grayling have been taken on the surface along with many undersize Brown Trout currently learning the trade. Fly life has been a little disappointing with hatches of midday Olives not a patch on last year although sedge fishing has been what it should for the time of year.

The lack of water? take it as read, I have been asked to “let it go” for the sake of my marriage.

Some swans have hatched off cygnets on the Common land below and each day they make concerted efforts to breakfast on our bars of Ranunculus. They can’t be that hungry because they vacate the premises as soon as the wobbly spaniel puts in an appearance, but a few hours of them pulling at weed would result in us losing several inches of water on the bottom bends. It is comforting to know that the wobbly spaniel still has a role play, as he is on his last leg, though don’t tell the swans who currently put him on a par with “he who shall not be named“. There is bitch in season in this parish and the Labrador with a butt to rival J Lo is in pieces and full of ideas about scattering his seed, wobbly spaniel is immune, or else he considers himself a swan, and his advances each morning are in fact foreplay, I wouldn’t put it past him, he has done far stranger things. I have not seen many broods of Pheasant or Partridge on my bumbles about, the intense showers of recent weeks may have done for a number of newly hatched chicks.

We have several snakes, grassy ones, one of which gave our resident painter, GP Jenkins decorator to the rich and famous (an advert, but he did buy me a drink) a start when it popped out from behind a window sill he was painting, we have had one in the pond and another crossed the road while walking the dogs one evening. I have also had cause to pull a bat from tree that had become entangled in some discarded nylon. Funny little things and far more numerous than we think, it was hanging upside down six inches above the surface of the river. Carefully untied, as the thin skin upon which they fly is incredibly fragile, it was given some R&R in the woodshed before taking flight in the night. Over the years, several rods have hooked bats while fishing late at night and there seem to be plenty of them about in these parts.

Work this week has mostly centred around cutting grass, with the warm weather and heavy showers, you can almost see the grass grow. I have topped the meadows, skirting the orchids, giving them a few more weeks to let seed develop, and done much strimming. The fringe, although full of colour, has bolted and will need the top taken off next week if any fish are to be caught.