A day of hemp and tares…

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The 30th day of September was not only to mark the end of the official trout season but also witnessed some warm temperatures, warmer than expected. The crowds that flooded to Kempton Park Race Course for the final market in September walked around in shirts sleeves and linen dresses. There was a mix of dealers from Europe where in every isle different languages were spoken and at the top of the hard standing was a Belgian dealer downing a large bottle of Duvel beer, at 10.30am this was quite an accomplishment.

This market is undoubtably now one of the best if not the best in Europe.

If you are a decorator, interior designer or window dresser there is no better place to find such an eclectic mix of items, I know I’ve said it before but you will find most things on your wish list. If there are trends to follow you’ll certainly find them here first.

Today for me was much about the reporting than buying, in fact I only turned up with enough change to buy a cuppa.

With a keen interest in interiors and items to dress up retail environments and bars I was overwhelmed by the amount of quality items. There were leather club chairs, lighting, glassware, zinc containers, silver and pewter bar ware, taxidermy, signs and all manner of reclaimed items. However I was on a mission to source orange boxes for Sloane’s Gin as POS items.

The mix of tourists, ladies that lunch, pretty designer sorts, Spitalfields boys and traders basked in the mid morning sun, it was a quite magical day.

On leaving the market I took a quick short cut to the river, there I found a gentleman fishing for roach with buckets of hemp and tares. I saw one fish take his bait however I felt he was fishing too deep, I guess about 4ins off the bottom, I find most fish in the swim he was fishing in mid-water. It was bright and the water quite still except for a slight current. I did suggest he try further to his right where the dappled light from the trees may be better for the fish but he stayed firmly fixed to his seat box. I bid him tight lines and continued about my day….I wonder if he moved.

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Little devil…

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In a recent post I mentioned a fish called a weever a member of the Trachinidea species, a small grumpy looking fish that spends a good part of the day buried in the sand in warm shallow water as it stalks small bait fish, worms and other sand dwelling creatures. Recently we managed to catch two in as many casts. To those of you that are not acquainted with this bottom dweller, beware! Small this fish may be but it is venomous, in fact it is more venomous than most jelly fish and as poisonous as a stingray.

The lesser weever is common on the south coast and the one usually caught by fisherman as they have a habit of taking bait quite readily. It is said that their name is derived from the French word ‘wivre’, when translated means dragon, it’s exactly what it looks like with its spines and mouthful of minuscule teeth.

What I was surprised to witness was one of the fish we caught over the weekend took a Dexter Wedge which was at least half its body length.

If you happen to catch one be mindful that it will sting you if you try to put your hands on it to take off a hook.

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Dexter got wedged……

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By mid afternoon on Friday we had executed a jail break, the entire House of Tales had made a run for it. St Ives in Cornwall was the destination for the weekend, however a sprint down the M4, M5 and A30 was to culminate at the Millennium Gallery to attend the Private View of Richard Nott’s Exhibition Histolysis, an exhibition of at least two years work of this enigmatic and reclusive artist. I only say reclusive as Rich spends many hours reading in his Eames Lounge Chair overlooking the sea near Porthminster Beach. This iconic design by Charles and Ray Eames, created in 1956 is a contemporary classic. If you want to buy one these days it will set you back £3750.00. If Richard is not reading and contemplating his work he is hidden deep in his studio working with paint, bitumen, resin, paper, polystyrene, plaster and a hammer!

Earlier in the year I was given the opportunity to visit his studio to see some of the works in vary states, sizes and those already finished boxed up for safety. As Richard quotes “Viewing the work is witnessing a protracted collision of process. An evolution of matter exposed, concealed, exposed, concealed – continuously. The consequence of years spent. My history merging with the history of the elements used”.

After the six hour drive we eventually arrived at the Millennium Gallery on Street-an-Pol, there a group of people huddle by the door and within dressed in a crisp white shirt was the artist. People stood around admiring the work however I needed to get up close and personal as these works are 4D, they smell! Yes, they have notes of a fine wine – tobacco, emulsion, resin and curing agent and a distinct smell of tar-bitumen. All these elements worked and turned, layered then dissolved and then hammered and to be worked on further. These works are inspiring, works of indulgence and inner expression, for me they really work to the level – “I want one of those”.

Works by the title Moraine I, Isthmus III, Histolysis V, Excision II, Dissolution, Detrius II and Integument make up this feast for the eyes, however they are so tactile but you are asked not to touch them.

We ended up back at Julia and Richards for an after show party, the gin flowed in fact there were several to choose from each offered with its suggested garnish so the table was more like a green grocers where you would find at least one of you five a day to go with your gin.

If you find yourself in St Ives or in Cornwall between now and the 21st October do yourself a favour, make a visit to Millennium, I just hope you enjoy Histolysis as much as I did.

With such good weather the conditions were ideal for a spot of fishing, a small ruck sack was packed with a few bare essentials, spinning reels, weights, swivels, sliders, floats, traces and the ubiquitous Dexters Wedge…don’t leave home without one.

Having walked over to see Young Tales surf on Porthmeor Beach by the Tate. I couldn’t help wonder if there were any bass out there amongst the waves. Either end of the beach were rocks the ones to the left had the silhouette of a lonely fisher casting out, the other just the waves starting to break. I decided to walk up and over the cliff following the S W Coast Path to the back of The Island. I scrambled down the rocks found a flat ledge and started to fish a deep gully. Using a small 20g wedge I worked the deep pool fanning across between the rocks and the weed beds. Close in by the rocks I noticed wrasse chasing the spinner powering themselves from the indigo blue seas. After several casts I had a sudden pull, the top of the Tyran rod dipped, it wasn’t a bass otherwise all hell would have broken loose, however it was a bright eyed pollock.

After an hour or so Young Tales made his way down the rocks and took over the rod. His casting has improved greatly and I must not forget that he has out-fished me all season. Unfortunately his efforts .were not rewarded. Having decided that the swell was steadily getting bigger I thought it was prudent to move his lordship to a safer position so we headed to a small beach which is flanked by an old pier, here was a platform that was safe for Young Tales to fish from. We switched the spinner and opted for a running rig baited with rag. Within minutes the rod tip gave an indication that something was having a look, sure enough out popped a small beast, a weever. These fish have need to be treated with caution as they will sting you with their spins and if they do without question you will need to seek medical advice as they can cause severe swelling. After a bit if a struggle deemed the fish too badly hooked to save so we decided to return the fish as bait, within minutes the whole top section of the rod rattled on the railings on the pier something sizeable had had a go at our live bait. Reeling in we saw that the fish had be torn apart, what took it we will never know but it was a hard enough knock to be a small bass. After a while the was the telling knock knock of a menacing crab clearly stripping the remaining flesh of the weever, the line was retrieved, still attached was our savaging crab.

The decision was made that if the bass were in on the high tide then we’d get the Dexter out and let Young Tales have a go, again he hooked another weever, this one we returned safely. Again Young Tales cast out over and over again but nothing.

With the warmth of the late summer sun radiating on our faces and the tide turning I suggested we made our way for some tea. One final fling with the Dexter ended up with it being firmly wedged in the base of one of the wooden pier pillars, no matter how hard we pulled it was snagged on a discarded crab line so this was to be unquestionably the last cast as our Dexter was wasn’t coming back.

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Time for tweeds..and not a fish in sight

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The second week of September usually marks the annual Goodwood Revival Meeting a three-day event held close to the Sussex Downs at the Goodwood Circuit, this nostalgic event of man and machine with accompanying ladies dressed in vintage clothes is a specticle to behold.

This event gives you the opportunity to dust down the tweeds, don a hat and enjoy the day for what it is – a journey back in time. That smell of Castrol R and hot rubber fills the air and the sounds of those cars at full throttle have a magical note. I have been attending this event for nearly 20 years, it is one of the highlights of the year. Both my sons have been and to all accounts love it, especially Young Tales, however this year I decided to go on the Friday with two of my oldest friends. We hadn’t been out for a day like this for well over a decade, married life, work, travel and just the issue of getting the diaries together never quite worked out but this year it was just a matter of booking the tickets and agreeing we were off for the day.

Lord March  and his team do a magnificent job in putting this event together, it has grown and to some degree become a little too commercial but all the same it really does work. In all the years I have attended I had never witnessed so many people dress up in period clothing, it was as if you were on a set of a 50’s/60’s film. what makes this event so the more captivating is the shere number of vintage cars, bikes, vans, planes and utility vehicles that are used as props, then there is the car park outside the gates that allows all the Members to park there pre 66 cherished cars. Without writing up chapter and verse it is simply a specticle that need to be seen first hand, I can’t recommend this enough. Even if you are not into motor racing, the sight of so many priceless cars spanning the pre-war years to the chart topping Beatles and the mid 70’s is a sight worth seeing. The Alfas, Ferraris, Maseratis, D Type Jaguars, Shelbys, Lotus, Cunningham and ERAs are a feast for the eyes – most I view as works of art, high-speed sculpture. Both the Glover Trophy Race and Sussex Trophy Race were mind-blowing as these priceless cars were driven at ten-tenths.

All I can say is if you get the chance to go, dig out the tweeds as they are not just for fishing and head South next September. See http://grrc.goodwood.com

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The curry powder plot…..

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As the hour of 5pm was indicated on my watch I decided to conclude what was an unproductive commercial day and take to the river to reflect and plan on what needs to be done to get some momentum behind the gin brand I look after.

The the tackle bag already packed it was just a matter of calling into Chapman’s in Twickenham to buy a pint of mixed maggots and make my way to Lower Sunbury and fish a favourite back water of the Thames were the well oxygenated water generated by the weir allow the fisher to catch good barbel that seem to rest towards the end of the day and into the night. The river was still, little flow and coloured, however the surface was covered by the first leaves of autumn and other debris.

It was noticeable that small fry and other small silverfish were being disturbed. Every now and again they would surface leaping out of the water in a frantic bid to get away from something, was that something a large pike or a hungry shoal of perch.

As the sun started its gradual decent lengthening the shadows it still had warmth to it, enough for me to want to bask in its rays. I had opted to float fish using a small stick float, my Diawa Vertice rod paired to an ABU 1044 closed face reel and suspend beneath it a couple of red maggots on a size 14 hook, after a while I downsized to a size 16 with a single white maggot and this seem to entice take after take of small bleak and grudgeon. After an hour or so of repeated catches of small silver fish I switched my set up to target perch feeding close to the bottom. After several casts nothing seemed to be interested, clearly there was evidence of predatory fish but nothing seem to be interested in my offerings.

It wasn’t long before I was joined by another fellow fisherman, he first surveyed the water and I could see he had a chosen spot to fish, yes and that was were I had taken up residence. He was a seasoned fisherman and had fished this stretch of water a while ago. Clearly he understood this piece of river and knew exactly were his quarry would be located. He certainly had some state of the art tackle and from observation was a tidy and organised individual. His rigs were neatly pegged out in a foam line box, his rod rest was made of high quality stainless steel or turned alloy with substantial rod cups, his bait was meticulously put together and upon asking what was he using, he replied ‘”luncheon meat dressed in curry powder” furthermore to add “they just love it”, barbel that is.

I watched him set up, then make his first cast with the accuracy of one of King Henry’s longbow archers, straight as a die and in the middle of the river towards the oxygenated water. At this stage and after much observation I took the opportunity to introduced myself, “I’m Graham he replied”, we then spent a few minutes discussing the opportunities this water gave and the sort of catches he had made in the past. One he described was of a mighty 22lb carp that he spent over an hour and a half playing the fish in one direction before it then took off towards The Creek for him to play until he could get if close to the back to net. These were notable accomplishment and certainly greater than anything I had achieved out of this 120 yard stretch of water. He reported having caught carp, tench, perch and barbel from the spot where he had taken up residence, if only I could lay claim to such catches but alas the largest fish was a perch which we caught last week and the mainstay of our catches are small silver fish. I asked my new acquaintance to inform me of his success for it was clear he was going to catch something much larger than my 4ins silver fish that I had been plucking from the water in the late afternoon sun.

Well I hope the curry powder paste did its job and I hope he had a tight line or two. Maybe he’ll let me know via a post on the blog.

A Boy’s Own Adventure…

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Today was just one of those days when the idea of basking in the September sunshine tempted us to head away from London to the Oxfordshire countryside to take in the change of seasons, blue sky, sunshine and that distinctive odour in the air of damp vegetation.

Charlbury on the edge of the Cotswolds was our destination for I had seen a post by Fennel of Fennel’s Priory fame http//:www.fennelspriory.com, that he would be attending the annual Wychwood Forest Fair now in its 15th year.

It was a great opportunity for Young Tales to manage to play with sticks, stones, hay and create fire, bows and arrows, ferrets and observe all things to do with country life. He saw the art of black smithing , bee keeping , spoon carving and something I had not witnessed before the art of growing your own furniture, see – http//:www.grown-furniture.co.uk.

Young Tales started the day with a bit of apprehension as to what this fair would deliver, the thought of a 1.5hr drive didn’t excite as he was keen enough to stay at home to watch his hero Lewis Hamilton chase his title hopes in the Italian GP. However, once at Charlbury with the warmth if the September sun on his back he raced towards a Medieval style tent made by George Mudford and Sons, known as The Agincourt Round a Pavilion, here was his opportunity to use a bow and arrow to fire at a target. This really was what a boys own adventure should be about.

I was grateful to Fennel and his fellow Wilderness Pioneers for their insight and time in order for Young Tales to learn some skills of the countryside and that knowledge of how to start a fire should one need to without the use of a box of Swan Vestas.

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Last light…

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The light and air seems to have changed as September marks the end of the official trout fishing season, however it is that magical time when the perch chase the small fry in order to fatten up for the winter.

Much like achieving the ‘Six Flags’ for visiting the major theme parks our Young Tales then embarked on squeezing in three full days of fishing each covering different species and different styles. The first was to catch some late summer mackerel, the next was a trip to a backwater of the Thames to catch some perch and his final day of his summer holiday was spent dry fly fishing for trout at one of his favourite waters, Robins Wood Fishery near Churt in Surrey.

With the tidal Thames on our doorstep Young Tales as opted not to wander to the banks in search of silver-fish dispute the river fishing well this year, this I put down to the winter rains cleaning the river and pushing the brackish water further down river. In previous years we had fished for dace, roach and the occasional chub on a single maggot hooked to a size 16 hook, there were plenty of rewards for his endeavours yet this year he seems not to be that interested.

The Barnes Three as they are know have enjoyed reasonable sport this year with several good sized chub, bream and roach being taken near Barnes Bridge by the inlet from an underground stream and further down the river where a spit that is visible a low tide allows access to a good position to fish a 3-4ft deep gully. Here, you will catch at least 4 species of river fish on most casts. To endorse this observation Brian caught 4 different species in 10 casts, a pretty good average by anyone’s standard.

Having baited up the swim with loose feed, mixed ground-bait and a scattering of maggots the fish came on strong taking a single red maggot when trotted down in the back end of the outgoing tide. On the turning tide the chub seem to come on. It was satisfying to see Brian’s ABU 706, spooled with 3lb line with a 1.75 breaking strain hook to nylon at the business end being tugged on each run. Fishing light is the answer to deceiving these shy river fish.

I think a trip to Chapman’s in Twickenham will be on the cards in the morning in order to get some fresh maggots to enjoy some sport in the evening sun tomorrow.

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A trip to the dogs….

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It has been a few weeks since I last posted anything here, not that little has happened, for a lot has, but I’ve had little time to sit down and type it up. Thanks to a problem with our broadband service this has also hindered my ability to keep up the content for those that kindly follow my ramblings, in fact over 82,000 of you have dipped in and out of talebytheriverbank, I thank you for your continued support.

As the annual summer holiday West is over and with the school holidays coming to an end I found myself with the task of keeping young tales off the iPad or from lazing by the window on the chaise watching more CBBC. Today he was in need of some fresh air and had asked if we could go fishing, so a trip to Walthamstow and the Lea valley came to mind.

Late in the afternoon after a visit from BT to fix the broadband we packed the car and headed to the Walthamstow reservoir complex having been told by the team at Farlows it was an ideal location for young tales to hit some Thames Water rainbows. Whilst visiting the Pall Mall store to get some braid there was a discussion on the success some of the staff have had at the No.5 on buzzers and Diawl Bach. Years ago as a teenager I would fish Farmoor a complex twinned with Walthamstow and buzzers were the key to leveraging trout out of the water, if I recall correctly they use to take with aggression and fight like mad.

After a trip across London passing both Arsenal and White Hart Lane, this alone caused excitement with young tales who is an avid footballer, however for me it was a trip down memory lane as I had lived there for a few years as a child with my grandparents in Wood Green. Not much seem to have changed other than the Bingo hall had gone and the toy shop near Finsbury Park was now a fast food outlet, there in the park was a fair, I remember that well from childhood as my grandfather would take me there on a Saturday giving me a few pennies to roll down a slot in order to win a prize.

Heading further up the Seven Sisters Road young tales questioned as how there could be a trout lake in such a built up location, an old head on young shoulder for sure I sense as even I started to have the same thought as we got closer to Tottenham Hale. I had previously pointed out the complex to him when arriving back to the UK as we flew over North London on a flight back to Heathrow as the plane banked and turned right to make its approach down the Thames Estuary for its final approach, it’s a very visible landmark.

The entrance to the reservoir complex is opposite the historic Ferry Inn. Not a glamourous location for sure, in fact a bit of a building site. We parked up an went into the self-serve ticket office, I could sense a level of apprehension, young tales wasn’t that impressed and I guess understandably when he had the privilege of fishing locations in the south downs, Sussex and Hampshire, these locations having beautiful wooden huts, manicured laws and stream fed through woodlands – this as a bit of rough and ready.

The first thing he did was turn over the leaves of the returns book, his face dropped as he saw several pages with nil returns and the odd fish after a 9 hour stint. Before we parted with our £17 for a grey 2 fish ticket we decided to go and look at the water, young tales was not convinced this was a water for him no matter what we had gleaned from a copy of the Walthamstow Fly-Fishers Club Spring 2014 Newsletter No.59, which detailed some reasonable catches but these were from The Warwick and to the tactics explained by the knowledgeable team at Farlows, they were spot on.

After being told to drive down to the car park by No.5, we parked up and walked up over the bank to see a mass of coloured water being pushed towards us by the prevailing wind. I watch young tales, scan the water with his eyes in much the same way as he watched the dog at the whippet racing in Cornwall, looking for that dog which had the extra edge to win a race – in his eyes there were no winners today. We watch the water together looking for signs of a fishing turning in the surface ripple but nothing. He noted the amount of cormorants and herons on the island and looked a the diversity of flowers on the bank…’no daddies’ he said, that would have been his other fly of choice. For young tales hauling a Booby isn’t his thing. He’s grown up using nymphs, Buzzers and dry flies and that’s how he want to fish, I’m sure had he placed a Buzzer or Diawl Bach in the margins he may have been rewarded but he chose to return home and use todays visit as a reconnaissance for a later date, much later I feel, I’m not sure a night at the dogs would get him back.

We momentarily stopped to look at the crystal clear Lea that flowed beneath one of the connecting bridges, there, deep in the water were a few fish silhouetted by the gravel, the river was more to his liking so maybe we need some time out with our fellow blogger thetuesdayswim who is so knowledgable of the location.

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The Last Stop Tackle Shop…

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Our annual pilgrimage to the most Southerly point of this green and pleasant land now seems a distant memory, yet it was only a few days ago. a trip to Cornwall to us is a quintessential part of our year, a time to see friends, take in the splendour of the coastline and walk the bustling streets of St Ives and observe the annual Whippet race in aid of The RNLI at The Lizard.

For me no journey is complete without a trip to the back of The Cowshed to visit Phil and Chris who run the Last Stop Tackle Shop, yes the most Southerly tackle shop on the British Isles. Here you will find more than you’d expect, a small space that is crammed full of tackle, rods, reels, lures, traces and weights line the walls. In fact on my recent visit Phil was trying to place another hook on the wall in order to hang some new sand eel lures.

To be honest this isn’t just a shop it’s an emporium to the senses, a shrine to the fisherman. It is run with passion, both Chris and Phil love what they do, they don’t over sell but advise on what’s best to cover off your needs. On this occasion the shop was more like a meeting house of the brotherhood, men passionate about the sea and fishing. At one stage you couldn’t move as locals and travellers entered into the doorway to chat, advise and joke amongst each other. The shop (shed) was warm from the summer sun, the wooden construction giving off the scent of the sea and fading smell of creosote.

Lure fishing for bass seems all the rage these days and for Young Tales an 8ft Rovex rod was acquired in order to allow him the opportunity to hurl a rubber and lead tipped sand eel in a cove close to the Lizard Lifeboat Station. With guidance from Chris we found a path, well if that’s what you can call it, we were waist high in ferns and bramble and after a while found our way down onto a rocky outcrop. There the sea was clear with gullies of deep green, yet not a bass to be found. Unfortunately we drew a blank so another trip towards September is in order, only that we were tipped off after meeting Nigel a well known Cadgwith fisherman and mentor of Monty Hall who was The Fisherman’s Apprentice, that that’s when the bass will be in.

Noticeably this year there is a lack of Mackerel off our shores, this seems to be something that has been reported about from the Sussex Coast to Cornish Coast, does this indicate a level of over fishing or just a late start to the season.

Well if you find yourself at the most Southerly point of our land do make the effort to visit the Last Stop Tackle Shop, you won’t be disappointed.

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Basstastic….

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With such warm weather and big tides the conditions for a bit if bass fishing are close to ideal if only for on the fly or lure, a good storm would help for fishing for them with bait but hey it is the summer and a late evening fish or dawn run in such balmy conditions is a great way to end or start the day.

I recently acquired a Ron Thompson N Series Tyran 8ft 10g-30g Travel spinning rod and a couple of packs of Savage Gear Sandeel and Slug lures with the aim of heading to the South Coast or Cornwall in search of these predatory monsters of our shores.

I have read several reports from the likes of Robin Howard that a reasonable amount of success had afforded him and some of his Guided clients to catch some good quality fish from the shore along the Brighton seafront.

With an old vintage Abu 55 spooled up with braid and a small Abu Ambassador Bait Caster I aim to get some fishing in over the next couple of days. The question is hard lures, soft or a change of kit to my trusted 9.6ft Hardy Graphite #8/9 paired up to my Vision XLA and some bass flies? Well, I guess it’s going to be a bit of a last minute decision however I hope I manage to connect with one of theses beautiful fish.

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