Wednesday 5 April 2017

Early Spring

JayZS Twig Rig.

I heard the first croak of a frog in my pond this morning.   Today is really warm for February, with a goodly number of my crocus showing colour, even the purple ones, which are always the last to do so.  A few even have fully open flowers.  The snowdrops are looking fabulous too.  The robins are getting paired up as are the goldfinches visiting the feeders. the finches and dunnocks are usually seen off by the robins, aggressive little so and sos.   But they back off for blackbirds, sparrows and great tits.   All this springing into life is lost on the fish in the river, which are still being reluctant to come out and look around. Difficult not to think that they have left the building entirely. Only six grayling in half a dozen half day sessions. Yesterday morning gave me one very small grayling and a somewhat larger trout. Both hooked on a JayZS twig rig.  I didn't show a picture of the twig rig in the last blog. Whilst I hope I had explained it sufficiently clearly I feel there may be a need to show a photograph of it here. A ridiculous idea you may well think, but it does seem to work.

Because the fishing has been so poor, I have done even more walking about, usually straying near one or other watercourse.  Always more to see when there is nearby water, greater range of birds, and it is generally simply much prettier.   Unless of course you are near some of the piles of rubbish we get thrown into local streams. Most of it though does not kill the wildlife, the sewage effluent probably actually increases the total biomass that the rivers can support, and the debris provides hidey-holes for all sorts of creatures that eventually end up feeding the fish and fowl that populate the stream.

I try not to leap onto social media posts in order to point out grammatical or spelling errors.   Whilst it does annoy me how poor some of the English can be, I have learned to ignore it much or the time, and I certainly do not claim to be perfect myself, far from it.    OK, OK, I might occasionally wade in when someone else has a go at such errors and, in doing so, almost inevitably makes an error or errors himself.   The first rule of the internet is that once you complain about spelling you are far more likely to get something wrong yourself.   There are some spelling errors that do get me quite annoyed.  I have probably mentioned before that about half the world's keyboard warriors cannot seem to differentiate between 'lose' and 'loose'.  Yet it is such a simple word.
For my recent birthday my son gave me a book:  'Human Universe' by Professor Brian Cox, OBE and Andrew Cohen.    The book accompanied a TV series of the same name, a series I must have missed, which is shame because it is just the sort of documentary I thrive on and salivate about.   The professor is a very well educated man, prone to using big words like 'solipsistic'.   I had to look that one up, and well as one or two others as I read the book.   Nearing the end of the book, I turned over the leaf onto pages 218/219.   As I started to read page 218, well before I reached the end of the first sentence, the word "loose" can storming out at me from one third of the way down page 219.     It is difficult to understand why the word shouted so loudly at me.  It can only be that I have a sort of unconscious radar for it.  It was an incorrect spelling of the word "lose". I was horrified. What chance do schoolkids have if both a university professor, the Head of the BBC Science Unit and also whomsoever they employed to proof read the text,  all get it wrong?   Line 12 and 13, page 219:
"For all practical purposes, therefore, they are isolated; it's not possible to panic or simply loose patience and return to civilisation above."   AARGGHHHH!!! Coincidentally 219 is my house number.  Was I pre-destined to spot this?  Either way I was astounded.

 Most of the time I am amused by these errors. A local print shop had, signwritten above its door: "LEVENSHULME PRINTER'S". I suspect that they may have been responsible for four large rather fishy signs on a nearby roundabout that advertised car sales: "DACE MOTOR'S".   Most of the time I am amused by the errors.
But the best apostrophe came to light a few days ago, in a fishing related forum, where one angler had written: "I hell'd the fish carefully."  Kept me amused me for days, that one has.

Trying to find other ways to occupy my time whilst the rivers are still out of sorts and most of the stillwaters I fish are not  quite ready for me, I sorted through some of my idle and certainly long forgotten bits of fishing tackle.  I was surprised to find an unopened box of split shot.    Surprised because to my certain knowledge, I have never bought shot so small.  How I come to have them is a mystery.  I am usually left with the remains of one of those rotary shot dispensers, with just its original complement of size 6 and 8 shot, sizes I never have found any use for.  But in this newly discovered box, the largest shot is size 8.  The other sizes are 9, 10 and 12.  Size 12!   How anyone, even the most skillful match angler could find any use for size 12 shot I have no idea.   And how on earth could you close the split around a line?   It needs a scanning electron microscope just to see the split, let alone try and slide a line into it, and close it.  The match would be half over before I had lined the slot up with the line, and the "all out" long passed by the time I had secured it to the line. Am I doing something wrong? I rarely use anything smaller than a BB, and have never gone lower than a size 4.  Am I missing out on a long list of captures I otherwise might have had?   Incidentally I mentioned cheaper shot a few posts back.   Well, here is what you might consider doing: buy two boxes of air rifle pellets.   A .177 pellet is the same weight as a BB shot, and a .22 pellet equates to a AAA.  They can either be drilled axially and threaded onto the line, aided by a float stop to position them, or, by using a similar method to that used with my twig rig, can be looped and clove hitched around their waist, and onto the line.  A lot cheaper than buying Dinsmores.  They seem to work well for me.  A bit fiddly to drill maybe but during the adverts whilst watching TV....  Using drilled air rifle pellets removes the inevitable weak spot created by squeezing a split shot onto the line.  Not as easy to tweak and adjust the shot load, but I cannot expect to have everything.

Since writing the above, two further weeks have passed, and I have ventured out onto a few stillwaters.  The fish have been reluctant, but not entirely absent.  A bream of about five pounds and a
couple of tench near four pounds were extricated from one of the most shallow waters on any of my clubs' cards.  I figured they would warm up quickly, and was, truth be told, trying to catch crucians.  They were not interested in playing my sort of games.  Sitting on a platform, fishing one morning, I saw a disturbance in the remains of last years rushes, and the newly sprouting reeds for this year. Something was heading my way, submerged and about twenty yards away to my right.  Carp, thinks I.  It came the whole way, still submerged, and stopped directly below my fishing platform.  Looking carefully, I could see ripples were extending out from directly beneath my fishing stool. After a minute of so, it continued, exit stage left, again keeping near the bank, and stopped under the next platform.   It did this three more times to the final three platforms, with occasional small fry scattering above it.   Not wearing my polaroids, I did not actually see it, but I was wrong about the carp: it had to be mammalian, and I think it can only have been an otter. Its actions did not resemble any of the many mink I have seen over the years.  I am sure it must have, on previous occasions, used the same platforms as rest halts.  It is the only sign I have ever seen of an otter on a stillwater.  And I have still only ever seen two individuals on distant rivers.   They are not common in my area, but three were confirmed as definite sightings by a friend I trust, and on a local river, which suggests they are now finally here.  The local barbel and carp anglers are not going to be amused of course.

The frogs have been, spawned in my pond, and moved on.   The crocus have bloomed in profusion
and faded. Snowdrops, just the long green leaves remain.  

The robins have a nest site in the garden,  a nest box I hid in the ivy covering a garden wall,  but I found a dropped egg on the patio, suggesting that their nest site has been raided by the jays or magpies.  Long tailed tits seem to have taken up residence somewhere in the front garden, as they often attack their reflections in my front windows, occasionally clinging to the lead of the stained glass windows, although never long enough to focus the camera. 

Salford Friendly Anglers are celebrating their 200th anniversary this year.   They are thought to be the world's oldest angling club, and have a lot of fascinating archive material.   They invited Ian Heaps, ex world match angling champion to give a demonstration this last weekend.   As a teenager, I used to fish against him in Stockport Federation of Anglers' Wednesday evening match series, held on the Macclesfield Canal, back in the mid 60's.  I have not seen him since then.   I didn't recognize him, my excuse being that he was in camouflage, having shaved off his moustache some years ago, probably something he did specifically to confuse me.  It was good to see him again, and we shared a
Ian Heaps at Salford Friendly Anglers 200th Year Celebration.' 
few memories. A shame the fishing, on the chosen water, was not better, or else the spectators in the gallery might have learned rather more from watching him fish.  Blanking should have been against the rules. Coincidental though, that the two venues at which we met were separated by 50 years, yet both are linked by the identical abbreviation SFA.

A further week now passed, and I know I shall not have the time to add significantly to this for at least a fortnight.   So I will publish and be damned.

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