A Season’s End




Defied Storm Gareth on my last trip to the Culm this season. Managed to hook and land two substantial branches as they hurtled downstream. One of which put up a superb barbel like fight all the way to the net. Just a tad disappointing; even though it was a personal best branch. Testament to the vintage Dawson’s of Bromley 600 rod and Speedia centrepin reel. The river was still rising as I packed up in the late evening gloom. As I was leaving I saw the comical sight of a very noisy and angry heron trying to negotiate a safe passage across the wind ripped sky. It’s ungainly flightpath took it back across the river, just as a huge roach- the biggest I’ve seen in years, rolled on the surface. It’s these signs of hope that keeps me coming back to this enchanting stretch of river. #culmfisher #traditionalangling #vintagefishing #fishing


Sabina And The Curse Of The Culm

I know it’s all my fault. Laziness is not a disease; just a state of mind and as minds go mine is pretty static- unless it’s full of thoughts which are absolutely useless to me or anyone…

I go back to the end of last season- March 14th. I finished work and threw the creel and a couple of rods into the van and headed for the Hele stretch of the Culm. The weather was warm and a few chub even allowed themselves to be fooled by my lurching float and graced my net. No problem so far. The long walk back to the van was periodically broken with stops to note some likely gudgeon swims on the leat and to watch a couple of crows give a buzzard a hard time on their way back to their evening roost. The pasty I had bought to fortify me was waiting on the passenger seat and it was this that I concentrated on whilst stowing away the tackle before sliding the door shut. I shall never forget the sickening snapping sound as the door smashed it’s way through the tip ring and the middle section ferrule of my Dawson’s “Sabina” rod. I once heard a similar sound when playing football for a local team. The visitors were short of a goalie and so their  fifty year plus linesman took his place between the sticks. After ten minutes he was in a collision with one of our forwards and a resounding “snap” echoed around the Otter valley. To see the chap calmy smoking a cigarette with his femur sticking out of his skin and happily telling everyone that “it was his own bloody stupid fault,” whilst waiting for the ambulance…i digress.

Staring at my beloved but now shattered Sabina, I was distraught, distraught to the point of losing my appetite. the pasty remained unopened and showed it’s displeasure by sliding around on the seat beside me, the plastic packaging making a hissing noise as if mocking me in my misfortune.

June 16th.. First day back on the river. The close season spent being driven mad by bass ignoring my lures and mullet, well, mullet just doing what they do- infuriate.

The Culm was bright and clear, the bankside full of colour, oh, and nettles filled with venom. I wandered happily along, armed with my other Sabina, Allcocks centrepin, and a pot of worms. The day was good, the fish were few, but natures distractions reminded me of why I go fishing in the first place. Solace.

As the crows headed back to the woods to roost, I had to have my last cast. The swim looked so inviting. A deep run between two weed beds, an ideal place to send a worm for a swim. A gentle flick of the wrist was all that was required. The cast was made, but instead of the “plopping” sound of quill hitting water, I heard nothing. All I could see was my float hanging from a willow branch and the worm dangling tantalisingly a couple of inches above the water.

The river here was quite narrow, infact I could have reached my float with my cane landing net handle and thus release it from it’s woody lair. But no; in my haste I simply pulled hard, the line tightened and I heard the snap as my float and baited hook flew past my face into the field behind…followed by the top four inches of the rod.

I need add no further.

First trip of the year…well almost!

Having seen footage of rivers flowing through houses and waves too big to surf on. I have contented myself with central heating, glasses of port and Chris Yates’ excellent new book “The Lost Diary” (www.unbound.co.uk for details.) But with a day off ahead and a blue sky beckoning I hurried the children off to school and then cogitated about where to go and what to fish for over a plate of eggs on toast and a cup of coffee…or two. Outside our nine year old Labrador “Marley” (named before the film came out OK!) was skating across the decking like Bambi, in his conquest to catch the grey squirrel that was sat in the apple tree. “Pike” I rather randomly thought. Associating the icy conditions with the fact that my recently acquired old Esox slaying rod which was originally designed for salmon fishing (i think)  and a speedia reel were propped up in the corner of the hallway. The rod is named “The Monnow” and also has the name W.G Haynes and Son of Exeter emblazoned on it- so it be a local bay! In truth it could use a little tlc, but with over one hundred intermediates to re-whip it can wait a little while longer (who am I kidding?)

Decision made; I set about transferring the jumbled assortment of necessary tackle from my old canvas bag to my new creel which my daughter Kim had very kindly bought me for Christmas. I announced each item aloud as it was transferred, carefully wiping off any crusty cheese paste and furry luncheon meat as I went along. All was going well until I put my finger through a rotten banana that was lurking at the bottom of the bag! With hands washed I suddenly remembered the plastic wallet with my fishing licences in. Thankfully it was in the front pocket and I managed to retrieve it, along with a rusty old sea hook that decided in it’s last throws of usefulness to impale itself into my forefinger (size 1/0 for the technically minded.)

With hands washed (again) to stop the fragment of decomposed mackerel from infecting me (just in case you were beginning to think I had an OCD  disorder,) I began flicking through the contents of the wallet. Old Royalty day tickets, Christchurch Angling Club, Sturminster Newton Club permits, a few day tickets for carp pools that were either now Theme Parks or Car Parks and finally countless Exeter Angling Association annual permits…ending in 2013. The realisation that it was now 2014 finally struck me. “*** it!” I thought. Now normally this wouldn’t be an issue as I can usually rely on the gratuities that I am kindly given by the customers on my mail round. This year however most of the general public have decided that as we Postie’s are now “stinking rich” with our free shares (even though we can’t sell them for a minimum of three years, by which time they will either be worthless or owned by the French- which is probably the same thing,) from Royal mail we no longer need a Christmas tip to buy our fishing permits and the odd bottles of cider and port.

Skint, I considered my options; Sell the dog on ebay? No that would take too long and I would probably get more for him at the local Chinese- I mean, who would spend a fortune on a pedigree gundog that was scared of loud noises…? Who…? You guessed it. Maybe I could raid the children’s money boxes? No they are still full of Euros and old sixpences from last time. Time to face the fact that fishing is off today’s menu. Which is a shame because I was going to christen the new hat that my wife Rae bought me for Christmas. It’s made from an old Brazilian tarpaulin (www.tarphat.co.uk) Hang on, I think I am missing a trick here. If  when you go to these links and decide to buy a book or hat could you please mention you saw the links on my blog and that I can’t afford my permits, cider or port this year and a little commission wouldn’t go amiss.

So, there it is. My first “nearly” trip of the year became my first post of the year. The next one will definitely contain the catching of a fish or two, or at the very least a glimpse of a river…please.


#fishing #traditionalangling #vintagetackle #IMG_3268a

%d bloggers like this: