Thursday 18 November 2010

Duff cocks, and a third interesting lump in my undercrackers

Duff cocks, and a third interesting lump in my undercrackers.

We have had some very wet weather with flooding in other parts of the country, around here, it has been fairly steady with minimum run off and most of it getting into the ground, to back up this theory, the river is not carrying much colour although we do have enough water to get the Mill stream running again. The Brown Trout are spawning hard, including one enormous hen on the middle bends, and there are many redds cut in the clean gravel. Herons are making a nuisance of themselves along with a brace of Little Egret who seem to be inseparable. The eggs in the hatchery are a week old now and look to be ok, I have picked very few dead eggs out this year, unlike last year’s batch when I think I must have used a duff cockfish during fertilisation.
We have had few Grayling Fishermen along this year, despite there being a good stock in the river. Now that the weed has been cut out several of the shoals of Roach have joined together to form one super shoal and will provide good sport to a single maggot presented under a trotted stick float. There are also a couple of Chub, or Chublets of around a pound plus the Perch on the bottom bends.
With the heavy rain the Pheasants have opted to spend much of the day in the wood, visiting the strips of Maize between the showers, which has meant I have been getting through a bit more corn. This year we are paying £160 a tonne for wheat, which is the highest, we have ever had to pay. As is the way of the enigmatic Wild Duck some days they are with us some days they are not, some nights the Barley on the pond is all eaten up, some nights there is a lot left over. I suspect that they are being fed very hard higher up the valley and shot at regularly, moving out to other ponds when their favourite feeding spot with its mountain of Barley has become to risky only to return when the memory of flying lead/bismuth has passed.
The Ash Tree that demolished the bridge has now partly been cut up; the replacement bridge will be over engineered in the grand manner of the Victorians, with big plates of metal and lots or rivets, or possibly a less elaborate wooden one sited away from any big trees. The Amber tree still clings on to its burgundy leaves, as do the Oaks.

Away from the river, a third interesting lump in my underpants proved to be a hernia, that is to be dealt with in the new year, along with a second hernia that I was unaware off, and somehow I managed to finish runner up in Hampshire FA’s Groundsman of the year 2010 competition, and I didn’t know we were even entered.

“This Groundsman demonstrated considerable innovation in his refusal to use parallel or perpendicular lines, each line painted maintained its own unique identity and direction; occasionally straight, often curved his current work breaks new ground in football pitch design, his penalty spots in particular, are a triumph!”

An FA spokesman said

The final inspection by FA pitch gurus and mandarins occurred two days after the village firework display. Seven hundred people jumping up and down on the turf was explained as pushing the barriers of organic rolling, and the burnt patch in the corner where the bonfire had been as, efforts to change soil structure in a boggy patch through the medium of fire.
Luckily they had visited in the summer, incognito with muffled oars, when we had some grass.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Rain at last

Went away at half term with the usual bunch, fishing for a week in the Loire Valley, mostly on the Cher near Chabris; a big derelict mill pool with the main hatch missing, twenty feet deep and holding all species of fish. We fished the pool a few years ago with some success and had the place to ourselves for a week, catching hundreds of pounds of Chub and Barbel, plus several torpedo shaped Common Carp to eighteen pounds. This year the river was three feet down on when we last visited and crystal clear. Fishing was tricky and the Common Carp that we had hoped to target proved elusive. Many fish congregated in the deeper holes, intent more on survival than having an autumnal feed. During a visit to the nearby Chateau at Chenonceau which is built over the river, we opened a window in the long room, to look for fish and immediately below were a dozen Carp between twenty and forty pounds. A "family event" where rods,tackle and all talk of fishing were banned, we reluctantly closed the window and attempted to banish thoughts of the leviathans that lurked beneath our feet.
Towards the end of the week we switched our attentions to a local lake. Constructed to provide irrigation for the surrounding fields and replenished solely by rain it was a third of it’s usual size, the mud flats revealed a huge population of Swan Mussels and in two relaxed fishing sessions we banked several Carp to twenty pounds.

Back home we have had some steady rain that has helped put a few more inches of water over the shallows where the Trout are starting to kick up their redds, there are a lot of fish left in the river and in shallow water provide an easy target for the Heron and Egret that are currently hanging around the valley. Fungal infections such as Saprolegnia can be a problem at this time of the year, but touch wood so far the fish in the river appear to be fairly clean. The Rainbows in the stew ponds destined for our local Big Fish water. Suffered a little from an infection of Costia brought on by the low flows of summer, but are now recovering after several doses of salt.
I have finished cutting the weed and all the fringe is knocked off. I still have to see to the Millstream, which has lain still for much of the year through lack of water. Next week we will drain it down and drive a tractor up the middle to cut the hedge that shield it from the road.
The hatchery trough is up and running and contains a couple of basket of mixed sex brown trout eggs. The fish seem to be a week behind on the spawning time of last year.
Ducks have found the pond and the heap of barley and we are all set to go with our first evening flighting ducks. The Pheasants continue to spend much of their day in the two strips of Maize and are in position for our first day in a few weeks time. This week the wind has blown and the sky opened up to dump several inches of much needed rain. Nice and steady with not too much run off, it has rained for much of the week. The weather map displays lows lining up across the Atlantic sweeping in to bring more, miserable weather for some, but just what the doctor ordered for this valley, if only the wind hadn’t blown so hard as to toppled an immense ash onto the bridge that I built last Easter, smashing it to a thousand pieces.