Bivvy Grand Designs

Bored by your bivvy? It’s time to get inspired!

We all know a fishing bivvy is supposed to be a purely practical item, created to provide shelter for super keen anglers. But what’s wrong with injecting a little design?

We’ve been on a hunt for the weirdest, wackiest and most wonderful examples of Grand Design Bivvies out there.

Here’s what we found…

bivvy 1

For giant caterpillars, and humans.
Source: Inhabitat

Das Park Hotel

You might need to stock up on air freshener in this sewer pipe hotel.
Source: Electric Tree House

bivvy 11

A boring-looking bouncy castle or a post-nuclear disinfection tent?
Source: Camping Scene

bivvy 10

Confuse some sheep with this design
Source: Field Candy

bivvy 9

It’s a jacket, it’s a sleeping bag, it’s a TENT!
Source: Firebox

bivvy 8

Let’s play rock-paper-scissors to pitch this tent.
Source: Technabob

bivvy 7

Now that’s a place for a romantic dinner.
Source: The White Connection

bivvy 6

No fly is coming near this giant frog! Perfect for insectophobes.
Source: Trend Hunter

bivvy 5

I just want to know where the wine bottle is!
Source: Trend Hunter

bivvy 4

Fairies and elves not included
Source: The Coolist

bivvy 3

‘Living in a bubble’ just got a whole new meaning.
Source: Bubble Tree

bivvy 2

Ever dreamt about living in a raindrop? Here’s your chance.
Source: Inhabitat

Wild west shelters

For most of us, a fishing bivvy is just that: a place to hang out while waiting for the fish to bite. But in times past, canvas has played a huge role in the daily life of millions of people.

And nowhere more so than the United States of America.

Here we stray from the river bank to take a look at some of America’s original bivvies – wild west shelters…

Wikiup

Otherwise known as a wigwam, the wikiup is a dome shaped shelter made from flexible spruce boughs or other available wood. It was the preferred means of shelter for nomadic native Americans. The structure could be erected very quickly, occupied for a few days or weeks, then left behind.

The type of covering varied according to the time of year. In winter, it would be covered with thick brush to keep the inhabitants warm. During the summer months, hides or canvas offered lightweight protection from the elements.

While a wikiup might look thin and flimsy, in fact, its dome shape offers incredible wind resistance, and for backwoodsmen out hunting or fishing, they’re still used from time to time.

Tipi

Synonymous with the tribes of the plains indians, the tipi is iconic. But to the Native Americans who used them, they were simply home. Lightweight, transportable and quick to erect, tipis are warm, dry and perfectly adapted to their environment.

Native Americans followed the food. Their tent villages were part housing estate, part hunting lodge, part fishing bivvy. In summer, the canvas or hide walls could be rolled up for ventilation. In winter, they were lined and insulated.

The central hole is covered by adjustable flaps for optimum draft, allowing smoke to escape. During the harshest winters, the tent could be staked to the ground – with no flat surfaces, it’s almost impossible to knock over.

Covered wagon

Covered wagon

Transporting your home doesn’t get easier than this
Source: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

The arrival of white settlers spelled disaster for the indigenous inhabitants of the land. The settlers believed in ‘manifest destiny’; their God given right to occupy the land, and exploit all its natural resources. From mineral deposits to game and fish, as far as they were concerned – it was all theirs for the taking.

For modern Americans, the archetypal settler’s wagon, the  ‘Prairie schooner’, represents the great trundle West in search of opportunity. To native Americans, that same canvas covered wagon serves as reminder of the ruthless extermination of a people.

Wall tent

Wall tent

Whole streets were made of wall tents
Source: Cline David, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The wild west was a lawless place populated by people on the make. But while few were the gun toting desperados of movie shoot ‘em ups, all were in search of land, and wealth.

For some that meant settling on the banks of a good salmon river, for others it meant trapping for furs in the far North. For yet others it was the gold fields of Colorado that fired the imagination, for still more, staking out a land claim and tilling the earth was the dream to follow.

With money in short supply, uncertain relations with native neighbours, and the constant temptation to up sticks and try their luck elsewhere, accommodation had to be cheap, easy to erect and portable.

That’s where wall tents came in. A simple pitched roof, with side walls to add height. And they weren’t only used as homes. Many main streets were constructed entirely of wooden facades – behind which lay nothing but a tent.

Tent city

usa tent city

A result of the financial crash
Image: Shutterstock

Tented accommodation  is making a comeback in the United States. The land of the free is also the land of the desperate, and never more so than since the property crash of 2008.

Failing banks and staggering levels of foreclosures have turned some areas into ghost towns. But on waste ground and in woodland areas, it’s another story.

Newly destitute people are moving in droves to, ‘tent cities’. Former teachers, factory workers, tradesmen and women – all sections of society are well represented.

When is a fishing bivvy not a fishing bivvy? When it’s your home.

Carp Fishing & Stalking with Dave Lane

Dave Lane Last Years Wacker

After my lost fish disasters on the big pit I decided on a return to the North Met last week for a spot of carp fishing, to try my hand and, hopefully, find it a bit less crowded than it was in the spring.

Well it was certainly a lot quieter and, surprisingly, a lot more scenic than the last time I was there. The trees had all leafed up nicely and the undergrowth had spread profusely, filling in all the gaps in the bankside and leaving the whole lake looking a lot more ‘carpy’ and nice.

I started off with the customary walk around the lake, climbing a few trees and peering into every nook and cranny but, after about two hours, I was still no closer to finding anything to fish for. I figured that, if they weren’t in the margins, then they must be further out into the lake out of sight so I found a nice swim that gave me a good view of the open water and just sat and watched for a while.

It wasn’t overly long before I saw a fair sized mirror carp slide up out of the water at about one hundred and twenty yards range so I loaded up the barrow and grabbed the bivvy and made my way around to the nearest swim.

One thing I had noticed on my travels around the banks was the proliferation on daphnia clouds, huge swaths of red slowly undulating in water like massive natural larders for the fish.

Daphnia is a massive source of protein for carp and it so easy for them to just swim through it like a big old whale shark, filter feeding as they go through. Quite why they would choose to ignore it in preference for an angler’s bait that they know may be dangerous I wasn’t sure and, going by the reports of how the lake had been fishing, I wasn’t convinced that they would.

As with all carp fishing though you have to take the rough with the smooth and, even if a lake is not on its best form, it’s still a lot nicer sitting out there trying your best than it would be sitting at home moaning about it.

Although my trip ended up being quite frustrating, as I watched carp just idly milling about in an edible environment, I still enjoyed every minute of it and, I found out later, somebody managed to bag a nice mid thirty just after my departure, from the other end of the lake.

Over the last week or so however, we have had a noticeable change in the weather, the evenings are turning cooler and damp and the mornings are refreshing, dew soaked and feeling a lot more conducive to catching carp.

I predict that the next few weeks will really start to pick up nicely and I am confident of a few good fish coming to the net.

In a couple of days’ time I am off to Oxfords Linear fisheries for the annual charity fish-in, held to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease association.

Basically it works by anglers paying to fish with the better known and mainly professional anglers in the industry (who give their time and help for free) this raises funds, as does a raffle on the last night.

The whole event is very light hearted and informal although there is a great chance for the paying anglers to pick up many tips and methods to take away to their own local waters and, hopefully, a few personal bests to be caught a swell.

Last year I had a lovely young lad called Sam to look after for the three days and I took him off stalking around the complex for most of the time. We eventually settled on Oxlease lake where I helped him to find a few fish and get them feeding on the surface.

It’s always an exciting method but, when he hooked into a very big fish indeed, it become a nerve wracking experience for me. I don’t think he quite realised what he had hooked until it rolled into the net.

At thirty two pounds it was, by far, his biggest ever carp and a real old warrior to boot.

I just hope I manage to send this years ‘visitor’ home with a smile on his face to match the one that Sam was sporting as he eventually headed off, tired but happy.

Fishing Weather Predictions

Who knew that just having a brew could tell you all you need to know about the forthcoming weather? Did you ever think a warm milky coffee could have saved you a soaking on the bank or a day stuck on a boat in the middle of a flat calm lake?

Whether you’re looking for that perfect opportunity to break out your new fishing tackle or any old excuse to get on the bank, try this nifty little tip to predict the weather for your next fishing trip.

Make a cup of coffee or tea, mixing it with cream or milk seems to make picking out the bubbles easier but a black coffee, tea or hot chocolate will also work fine.

Cup of tea while camping

Grab your cuppa and watch the bubbles
Image: Shutterstock

Pour your coffee or tea into the cup and watch which way the bubbles head, if they move to the edge of the cup rather quickly make sure to take your sun tan lotion, peaked caps and cool bags! The theory behind this method is that high pressure will push the bubbles to the edge of the cup, which indicates a period of calm weather and clear skies.

On the opposite end of the scales, if the bubbles cling to the centre of the cup, low pressure is expected which typically brings unsettled weather, the type where you need to don your wet weather gear and hide in the bivvy!

My First Carp on a New Estate Lake

Well it looks like winter has finally arrived, the flooding and wild winds have been replaced by freezing temperatures and half the lakes in the country have a lid on them already.

I have managed to find myself a water at last having spent a couple of months in the wastelands, so to speak, a nice little Estate lake in Northampton. The setting is about as stereotypical for an English estate as you can get, like a film location for a period drama. There is a huge manor house atop a small hill and rolling lawns meandering down into a six acre lake, dammed at one end with a small stone bridge and inlet stream at the other. Sheep wander freely over the entire area and often straight up to the bivvy door at first light, their sudden Bleating can almost send you through the bivvy roof in shock!

I have even had a take from one when he decided, out of curiosity, to turn my reel handle with his nose to see what would happen, what happened was me and the dog came flying out the bivvy and fifty sheep went charging off up the hill in panic.

Over the years the lake has seen the passing of millions of gallons of water fed from the stream and the fields and then pushed over the outlet onto the lower ground of the valley below but what it has left in its passing is silt, I wouldn’t like to even guess how deep but I know for a fact it has gone from 14 feet deep to 5 over the last couple of decades, and that’s the deep end!

Most of the six acres are between three and four feet deep and hold around sixty fish including one very big common of around forty six pounds, so how after nine nights spread over five weeks have I not even seen one single fish roll or jump?

It always amazes me on these little shallow lakes, just how elusive the carp can actually be, although I am not sure that the middle of winter is the best time to start looking really.

I have managed to catch one though and it’s always nice to open your account on a new water; I had a lovely fish of twenty two pounds one oz mirror on my second trip, fooling me into thinking that I had sussed the place and I would have a hat-full by now!

Dave-Lane-Fishtec

My last two visits have coincided with the arrival of a new ice age and I am actually now at home writing this when I would normally still be fishing but yesterday half the lake froze over and by midday I still had ice coated lines and freezing fog masked the far bank. The forecast last night was for minus four degrees and, looking out of the window, I can see they were right and there is no way the lake could survive that.

One thing I will say though, having just fished in such bitter conditions, is how warm and comfortable I managed to stay while I was there, I was genuinely amazed when I woke up to find the lake, my bivvy and everything all around encased in ice. The lid was frozen onto my water bottle and yet I was snug as a bug in my sleeping bag and oblivious to it all.

Thermal carp fishing gear has come on in leaps and bound over the last few years and I look back in horror at just how unprepared we all used to be, in Argos sleeping bags with an old blanket over the top. I now use the Hard-core sleeping bag with the Comfort Zone Peach-skin cover and, to be totally honest, I wouldn’t actually like to be any warmer for that would mean stripping off layers of clothing which is all well and good until you get a run in the night dressed in just a T-shirt and your Sponge Bob Square pants, pants!

The beauty of this system, for me, is that it still crushes down into the bed-chair when I pack up and, as long as you un-clip the cover and tuck it inside the frame, you can fold the bed totally flat so that it goes back on the barrow nicely.

As for actual winter clothing I am now spoilt for choice, being in the fantastic position of having to test the new ranges of kit I have so much warm gear to choose from that I couldn’t catch a chill in the Arctic.

My personal choice at the moment though is the big Force Ten jacket for in the daytime when I am out and about in the elements and the Thermo-Tex survivor for dossing about in the bivvy in the long hours of freezing darkness, this thing is like a portable sleeping bag and so comfortable and warm it’s incredible.

Anyway, I gotta be off now, I have a load of cold wet gear in the back of the truck to dry out and I’ve just spotted a low pressure system moving across the XC-Weather site, apparently it’s going to be eight degrees by the weekend so get your warm jackets on and get out there while you can.

Searching for the perfect Carp Fishing venue

With still no winter tickets on the horizon I decided to continue my tour of various waters, I even tried a few hours on the river at one stage but to no avail.

At one stage I had burnt about fifty quid in diesel and not even wet a line, looking at, and then rejecting, three waters in one day. I’m not sure exactly what it is I am looking for but I am fairly sure I’ll know when I find it. After having such a nice time all summer and a water practically to myself it’s hard to drop straight back into the hustle and bustle of busy lakes so, in some respects, I suppose I have been spoilt a bit lately with my carp fishing.

With a lot of time wasted and one night left to fish I decided to pop over to a lake nearby to home, owned by another mate of mine affectionately known as ‘Delboy’ for all the normal reasons!

The lake is situated on the edge of Thetford Forest and I suppose that an ‘Estate Lake’ is probably the best description although lacking the actual estate.

It’s only a few acres in size and is long and narrow with an island running half its length. The bottom is varied, mainly silt due to the forest and years of falling leaves decaying on the lake bed but there are strips of hard ground and even a bit of gravel here and there.

I love fishing these intimate little venues where everything is up close and personal and you can actually see the carp bubbling up from the bottom and track their progress by the little ‘chufa trains’ as they break on the surface.

It didn’t take long to find a few fish, just in the open water at the end of the island, I saw four or five fish roll in quite quick succession and was soon scrabbling for a rod in the back of the truck.

Rather than fish over any bait I decided to start with just two rods on single pop-up’s and see what happened for a while.

Even though I only made three casts in total the difference in the ‘feel’ as each one landed was amazing, one was so soft that I re-cast, the second seemed like firmer silt while the third went down with a resounding thump that could only be exposed gravel.

There was only one other angler on the lake and he seemed a bit surprised when, ten minutes later, I appeared in his swim to ask if he could take a photo for me!

I acted all nonchalantly, as if happened all the time, but no-one had more surprised than me when the rod cast onto the firm ground had ripped off within about two minutes of casting out.

It was a lovely little mirror of around seventeen pounds or so and a great start.

17lb-mirror-carp-dave-lane

After re-casting both rods onto the hardest ground I could find I set up the tea making equipment and a low chair and sat back to watch the water, still not sure if I might need to re-locate before nightfall but a second fish an hour later convinced me I was definitely in the right spot so up went the bivvy as well.

As darkness fell and my new neighbour cooked us both a fantastic chilli we sat and listened to the lake come alive, it seemed as if fish were jumping everywhere but the small channel at the back of the island seemed the noisiest spot by far.

I had every intention of moving there in the morning but two more fish in quick succession just after it got light kept me grounded and I ended the session with four nice carp for my efforts, not bad for a single night session and the best of was that I only had a fifteen minute drive back home for a change.

It’s nice to be out at this time of year as well, there is nothing quite like the colours of Autumn as the leaves turn to red’s and gold’s and yellow’s but I was glad of my ‘Force Ten Jacket’ as we sat out eating that chilli I can tell you, it won’t be long now until the full thermal outfit is pulled out of the bottom of the drawer and dusted down for the long winter ahead.

A short Carp Fishing session with Dave Lane

It’s been a bit of strange few weeks for me since catching that big leather over at Northants. I suddenly found myself without anywhere to fish, a situation I was neither familiar nor particularly happy with.

It would have been the ideal time to start on a winter water, getting a bait established and learning a bit about the fish movements etc while they were still active but as I had nowhere in mind or no tickets in hand I decided to visit a few of the places I have been meaning to try some carp fishing for ages.

The first one of these was my old mate Alan Taylors place over at Ecton, also in Northants.

The Ecton complex is an extremely pretty chain of lakes comprising of three syndicate and one private lake all of which are well established and have many islands and peninsula splitting them up and making them seem smaller than they actually are. As a result of this my first walk around the complex on the Monday morning ended up taking me five hours, mind you I was looking for signs of fish feeding and somewhere to actually angle so I was taking my time.

Eventually though I spotted a couple of fish rolling on the biggest of the lakes, in a channel between a shallow bar and long island, and I decided to load up the carp barrow and make my around to there.

The swim looked hardly fished, probably due to the fact that it was the opposite side of the lake to the track and the swims on the track side could be fished practically from the car.

The bar in front of the swim almost reached the bank and it ran parallel to the bank, a bit like a road going through the swim, the water on top was very shallow so anything hooked would probably have to be netted by wading out to the drop off.

I set up all three rods with yellow pop-ups and fanned them out over the thirty yard gulley between the end of the bar and the long island that made a backdrop to the swim, scattering a fair spread of boilies over the entire area.

Any fish moving through would come across bait and hopefully stay around long enough to find a hook-bait as well.

I waded the landing net out and propped it up on a long bankstick, just on the drop off where the gully started as I was sure this was where I would end up netting the fish but, just to be sure, I set up a second net on the bank as a fail-safe. I always carry at least two nets with me and quite often three, I think they are such an inexpensive item compared to a lot of the kit we carry and having the option to split your rods up in adjacent swims or either side of some bushes etc, improves your chances of multiple catches no end. I love to have one rod on its own waded along the margins with its own net and fishing far more effectively with a short line between the rod tip and the bait.

Dave Lane's set up

Anglers who don’t use bivvys or any kind of shelter, regardless of how short the session could be caught out with this temperamental British weather… Kit and clothing will take the brunt if not kept safe and dry. With everything set and the bivvy erected I sat back to wait but as soon as I did the first rod was away. A lively scarp, a bit of well-planned wading and I was soon waddling back with a common of around eighteen pounds in the net, perfect!

Later that evening I had to repeat the whole affair again, only this time it was a mirror of similar size. I was glad I’d had the little bit of practise in the daylight though because I could have easily come unstuck as I stepped off the bar into the slightly deeper margins close to the bank.

The swim died a death after this second fish but I suppose all the paddling about couldn’t have helped much still, two fish from a new water in a one night session wasn’t a bad result and I drove home a happy man.

Frustration Continues!

After the highly unseasonal cold east winds and heavy rain, accompanied by hail, it was a pleasant change last week to find the new tench and bream water bathed in very warm spring sunshine. However, any thoughts that Alan and I were holding about the sun sending both species into a feeding frenzy were well wide of the mark. The only fish that were showing any life were the dozens of carp cruising the surface layers, but even they were very disinclined to feed. One angler pursued them both off the top and with zig rigs for two whole days and managed just one take from a 16 pounder. All those of us fishing for the big tench and bream recorded, once again, total blanks. In fact, since the end of the river season, there have been very few fish of any description banked.

It really is head scratching time. As with a lot of waters holding a smallish head of very big fish, when they have not really got their heads down in earnest, they tend to be very nomadic.  On a big gravel pit, therein lies the problem; location is a lottery. I’m sure that, if we had unlimited time on the bank, say seven consecutive days and nights, heavy baiting would eventually draw the fish in. But those days are long gone, Alan and I are both 68 years of age, and two days in a bivvy is quite sufficient! I did have some action, though. During the daylight hours, I concentrated my three fishing rods on rubber maggots and/or rubber corn, popped up to beat the bottom weed. At dusk, though, I switched two of the rigs to rubber corn/lobworm cocktails, with bream through the dark hours the target. As with my first session, this produced two screaming runs from small pike just as the light was fading. Not what I’ve waited for, but better than a blank, I suppose. Despite the lack of action, I’m thoroughly enjoying the fishing. It’s a very pretty pit and the potential of the water is outstanding, and when the fish do switch on, I want to be there. My other news, for all the barbel fans out there, is that I’ve just had my first e-book published on Kindle, via Amazon. It’s titled Top Tactics for Big Barbel and is available for download at £2.85. If you’re interested, visit kdp.amazon.com for more details. The picture is of the 17lb 2oz barbel that features on the front cover of the new book. This new publishing outlet excites me a lot and I have a whole series of books planned under the Top Tacticsbanner. I’ll keep you all informed of progress on this front, as well as, hopefully, some big bream and tench. Got to keep the faith!!

Tight lines to one and all.

Bivvy survival tips

Anyone who has followed the teachings of the renowned wilderness expert, Ray Mears will know that if you get lost in the wilds, the first thing to do is – make a spoon. But what do you do next?

Read on to discover our bivvy survival tips for the intrepid angler – just incase you lose your way.

Location location

bivvy caution

Choose your bivvy location carefully
Image: Shutterstock

It’s not just prospective second home owners that need to consider the position of their bolt hole in the countryside. As a wilderness survivor, you need to give careful thought to where you site your shelter.

Steer well clear of dry river beds, gorges, low water marks and cliff edges. The prevalence of deadly snakes, sharp fanged predators and stinging insects should also be factored into the equation before making any final decision.

Be prepared

bivvy survival preparation

Always be prepared
Image: Shutterstock

If your map reading skills are best described as, ‘inept’, don’t attempt to go ‘wilderness fishing’ without planning ahead for getting lost. At the very least, remember your knife, some parachute cord and a tarpaulin. You’ll probably want to take along some emergency rations and water too – and don’t forget to pack a paper and pencil.

You never know when you’ll come across a bottle in which to place your message or failing that – write your survival diary – and make millions when you return to civilisation.

Build your bivvy early

spooky forest

Build your bivvy before it gets spooky
Image: Shutterstock

Don’t leave it until the last minute to erect your shelter. It gets quite scary in the woods after dark. Every shadow will make you jump and each and every time you hear a twig snap you’ll remember the Blair Witch Project.

Make sure that before night falls, you are safely tucked up in bed with a roof over your head. Tie your parachute cord tightly between two trees, drape the tarp over the top and then use your knife to make some tent pegs. Hey presto, a makeshift fisherman’s bivvy.

Insulate your bivvy

Bivvy made of Sticks

Make your bivvy warm and safe .
Image: Shutterstock

Experts estimate that four fifths of the heat loss suffered by bivvy dwellers, occurs through contact with the cold ground. Cut boughs of springy spruce for a mattress and then hunt around for something soft to lay over the top. Fresh broadleaf boughs might be nice, or grass, or maybe moss.

Use leaf litter only as a last resort – it’ll be full of bugs – but do find something because lying on pine needles is fun only for people with unusual tastes. Next, seal off one end of your bivvy using saplings, branches or maybe your fishing tackle box. That way you won’t need to worry about waking up to find a wolf gnawing at your head.

Light a fire

bivvy fire

Find fuel for your fire
Image: Shutterstock

Fire; it’s what separates us from the other primates, so if you want to be the true king of the jungle, remember to pack some matches or a lighter. When deciding where to build your fire, bear in mind the prevailing wind direction. Herrings benefit from a few hours in the smoker but you won’t like it.

The bigger the fire, the more fuel you’ll need and the greater the likelihood of your being discovered by cannibals. Small is beautiful and much easier to control – plus you won’t burn all the lovely fish you caught before you got lost.

In an emergency

chips

Find yourself some fatty food .
Image: Shutterstock

If the worst comes to the worst, use the GPS on your Smartphone to locate yourself, then follow its directions to the nearest chippy.

A slow start…

My main target this spring and early summer is tench and bream, and the chosen water is a very pretty gravel pit containing big specimens of each species. Certainly, bream to 16lbs and tench just under 11lbs have been caught and verified. My biggest bream is the 15lb 2ozs specimen from Queenford Lagoon over twenty years ago and it has been 14 years since my last double figure tench; so, I’m champing at the bit!

I’m fishing the water in the company of my good friend and brilliant angler Alan Lawrence. Alan fished the water last spring and, after a slow start, amassed a staggering total of big fish of each species. He also took a handful of good carp on his tench rigs and, with the carp running to mid 30s, there’s the potential for a heart stopping battle on light feeder rods. I’m going to resist the temptation to deliberately fish for the carp, though. I have other carp waters to target; I am totally focused on the tench and bream.

I’ve just returned from my second 48 hour session on the water, and have to report that neither Alan nor I have had a bite! I do not count a 1lb pike that took a swimfeeder on the retrieve. We have been suffering the malaise of many waters up and down the country, with unseasonably cold conditions including strong east winds, heavy driving rain and water temperature more akin to February than May. I know, speaking to many friends, that most anglers are also struggling with the decidedly wintry conditions. I live in hope, though, that these cold, wet conditions will see some really heavyweight tench being caught once the weather normalises. My three double figure fish, plus a string of nine pounders as back up, were taken after the water warmed following an equally miserable spring in 1998.

Although there is no exciting fishing to report back on at the moment, I can report on some of the new TFG products. Having finally retired my battered old Armadillo bivvy, I can say that I am delighted with my new Lok Down. Finding bivvies that will do everything with enough space is hard enough. With almost two inches of rain on my first night using it this week, it could not have had a more strenuous waterproofing test, which it passed with flying colours. Also, the Armo was the Two-Man model and I did debate whether to go for a two man Lok Down as well. In the end I opted for the one man and it is very generously sized, more than big enough for a six footer like me plus a mountain of gear. The Two-Man must be like a dance hall!

The monsoon like conditions were also an extreme test for my new Dave Lane Mag Runner bite alarms. Where bite alarms are concerned, I have no patience with all the bells and whistles some anglers seem incapable of being without. All I ask is that they sound when I get a bite, they don’t give up the ghost in the cold or damp, and they don’t require a second mortgage to keep up with the battery use. I don’t need tone alteration or volume control, although the alarms are supplied with mufflers for those who insist on ultra quiet alarms. Personally, I am not a fan of remote receivers, although one is supplied with the Mag Runners. I suppose I’m a bit old fashioned, but still believe that when I have baits out I should be behind my rods. I will use the remote receiver, though, if I’m forced to sit well back from the rods in very rough weather, so it is an important addition.

I can confirm that they passed the cold and damp situation with no problems! What I particularly like is the small size, the lightness and the dumpy little 12V batteries which are so quick and easy to change. A few years ago, I had other alarms that used the same batteries, and the battery life was outstanding. The alarms themselves, though, were a nightmare in damp conditions, but that’s another story!

Lastly, I am delighted with the new Hardcore Heavy Duty Carryalls. For bivvy fishing, and for using a barrow, the traditional rucksack is hardly ideal. I wanted a tackle bag that was solidly free standing, and not always toppling over, making finding items a lot of messing about. Similarly, the rucksack is altogether the wrong shape for barrow work. I acquired two of the carryalls, one for my tackle and one for my food, stove, cooking equipment, water etc. As well as the easily accessible load carrying, the hard top makes an ideal table. I had several very favourable comments about this luggage and I predict this will become a big seller.

See you again in a couple of weeks, when hopefully I’ll have some big tench or bream to show. In the meantime, here’s a shot of a big tench from a year back to remind us all of what one looks like!