Much water has rushed beneath my personal bridge these past few months: I turned a certain age for a start; then I upped my Essex sticks and started afresh less than two hundred yards from a river blessed with barbel and chav’s – not to mention the odd migrant and some hefty pike. The icing on this idyllic cake is employment within a well-organized jungle of fishing gear – TF Gear to be precise – and my new role has kindly compelled me to re-think my lot as an angler: it’s brought me up to date. Fishing is a field in which I might be described as conservative – not averse to change but reluctant to dump the learning of decades. I still enjoy watching a bobbin and deciding for myself when the hook should go in, but some species and methods don’t lend themselves to such niceties and I ain’t arguing – long may those Whiskered Ones continue to wallop the carbon!
What’s changed is my will to experiment with new coarse fishing tackle, while they’re still new – not two years down the line when everyone’s had their fill of fish and the novelty’s worn off. I do, however, have some catching-up to do so, this season, I’ll be swapping the PVA bags for in-line mesh-sticks: better for casting, better for baiting-up – and you can use the dispenser to splint a broken finger if necessary! I shall stock-pile my sticks before fishing to keep the faff-factor to a minimum; I’ll deliver them more comfortably too, thanks to my nice new Nan-Tec Classic 2lb barbel rods. These beauties have full cork handles and dependable, well made screw-fittings…I wonder if I’ll christen them with a double?
Another thing I’ll be using for the first time this season is a feeder mould – something I’ve always passed off as unnecessary because, well…it is! You really don’t need one to fish effectively, but how much simpler and neater it is to push out a nice firm cake containing your hook-bait? It’s got to be done, eh? And anti-tangle rubbers! I’ll never present an untidy rig again, I promise. For the sake of a near-weightless piece of rubber we can all now streamline our rigs – be they light or heavy – and fish with that bit more confidence. It’s the semi-rigid nature of the anti-tangle sleeves that I like; it converts the rubber into a very effective miniature boom that prevents squabbles between end-tackle components (and there’s another good argument for in-line stick-fishing…)
I’ll be using my own very successful tench bait in the early weeks of the season, but for barbus…will it be as effective? An old pal took at least two doubles on it from the Hampshire Avon and I was with him for the first capture made from the Sandy Balls stretch in mid-November. Talk about the madness of anglers! Mick would pick me up in Chelmsford, Essex at around 2pm and we’d arrive in the New Forest shortly before dark; by the time we’d settled in and got a fishing rod out it was pitch black down there in the wooded gorge and after just six or seven hours of serious fishing in total darkness we’d pack up and make our way back to Essex, arriving home at 04.30 – 05.00hrs. I still think that was crazy, but then mild insanity was fairly normal within the angling fraternity at that time.
So, the capture of two barbel on my concoction proved nothing about its efficacy as a river-bait and Mick doesn’t live close enough to a decent river where he might test it out – but the signs are good. For tench it’s a superb bait so let’s hope their whiskered cousins have similar tastes.
So…June 16th will see the smartest, best-equipped dude in the West sitting in his Dave Lane Hardcore chair and tending to his Nan-Tec Classics. Bait will be my precious creation – plus a nice, firmly packed mesh-stick to draw them in..