As you will know, for me, the last day of the fishing season is thick with tradition.

This year Saint Xeno saw fit to allow a break with that tradition.

SDC10016

At 6lb 2oz this was a huge uplift in the size of my biggest Chub.

What a day.

patch1

 My baseball cap is getting pretty worn and battered, not to mention sun-bleached. It’s a golden rule of clothing that just as a piece starts to get really comfortably, then that is the point at which it develops a hole, splits or otherwise starts to fall to bits. Mine will last a while yet mind you, although if I was in the market for a replacement I’d get one of these fish hats from Ben at Arizona Wanderings. Last year I bought one of his K C Badger t-shirts and its always bought me luck (and a trout) when I’ve worn it fishing.

On the subject of sartorial items, recently discovered on the internet, that I’d quite like are Auxiliary Outside Projects t-shirts, deigned by Anthony Oram, who’s interviewed here.

Though, given the current fiscal position at Boot Hall I might only be able to stretch to one of their patches.

Sew-on patches are something I’ve been giving a bit of thought to lately, because I’d like the womble bag to have a slightly less military surplus look.

Another vendor of outdoor-themed patches is Miscellaneous Adventures. The general “honours” patch is OK, and there is also a cycle one that I can’t find just now, but the one I really like is the woodland woodcarving one. Not sure I can justify the costs of going on a course to get one though.

kit

Berghaus the outdoor clothing/equipment people are running an online competition at the moment based around the question – “What does adventure mean to you?”

Competition aside, it’s a question that interests me because I think my life is one where we seek adventure albeit at a low level, lower even than Alastair Humprey’s Micro Adventures. Nano-Adventures perhaps.

I say we because Little Boots is most often my partner in action where adventuring is concerned. So undoubtedly the place to start with that question, as far as I’m concerned was to put it to Little Boots.

The answer I got was –

“Bushcraft and tying knots and things. And firecraft. And setting up camp.”

An interesting answer. We have probably used the word bushcraft whilst wombling around and doing stuff in the woods. Tying knots is something LB has been interested in for a while, and is accentuated by the current craze for loom bands. Firecraft is a word I’d never use, and I think must have come from the Bear Grylls book that LB takes on every camping trip.

But it’s good to know that my child equates the word adventure with being outside, and doing outdoorsy stuff.

For my part I would answer the question “What does adventure mean to you?” by saying it’s something to do with the spirit of life itself. The things that make you glad you are alive, even if they are tough going along the way. The things that make up for all the rubbish of modern times we have to endure.

Recent adventures include a hilly, five-mile yomp through woods and fields to a remote pub with a wood-fired pizza oven, another trip where we slipped across a railway at a crossing that I’m still unsure we should have used and battled through chest-high nettles the other side, a three a.m start to cycle to the water on the opening day of the fishing season and a virtually sleepless night in a small tent in the woods during the worst thunderstorm to hit the county for a good few years.

Fun, exciting and perhaps slightly dangerous experiences that will live in the mind as well as the heart for a long, long time.

That’s what adventure means to me.

 bookyates 

Last year I subscribed for a book and it was really nice to be one of the first to get my hands on a new piece of writing by angling guru Chris Yates.

The book was The Lost Diary and I have to admit that raising subscriptions for a publication did seem to me a bit old-fashioned, mainly I guess because it’s something I associate with Victorian times. But the more I thought about it, it seemed like a really good thing., after all so many books are published that I think have no real market and are just bought for the sake of it – usually as a gift.

How many of us have received a “humorous” or “little-known facts” book on our chosen hobby that is useless and terrible and immediately binned, or sent to a charity shop?

There is also an added perspective that “The public want, what the public get” with a lot of books being published with publishers deciding what readers want, rather than vice versa. Or so it seems to me.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying I’m going to put my name down as help kickstart Dave Hamilton’s prospective Wild Ruins book.

Go here to see what I’m on about.

 

tradition
In the few short years that I have returned to fishing a few traditions have developed. For the opening day of the season I go to the monastery ponds that I fished as a child.

I get up an hour before it’s light (which means about three in the morning) and make my way there by bicycle. This mode of transport is not a nod to days of yore, but rather something that allows the OH to have the car all day. It started as a necessity but has become a tradition.

For the closing day I go, mid-afternoon, to the river that is a short walk from where I live. The tradition that I have control over is that I stay until the bats are out.

There are other traditions which I do not have any say about.

Firstly the penultimate fishing trip of the season will have been better than average, perhaps ridiculously so, which will raise glorious hope that the last day of the season will be an absolute cannonade of angling achievement

Also I will see some amazing wildlife. Last year it was an eerie owl encounter.

And the final tradition is that I do not catch a single bloody thing.

So last Friday found me sitting on the bank hoping the milder weather might produce results. This was countered by the fact that the water was still extremely high. And fast.

I was trying to ignore the signs and omens, not helped that I’d had an amazing session the week before and achieved a personal best by quite a margin.

Anyway I set off with a hopeful heart, and buoyed by a week of dry and sunny weather.

After an hour and a half as the heat began to fade out of the sunlight I heard a bird begin to call loudly. It was immediately apparent that it was coming from a large alder and it took only a moment or two to locate a big bird of prey sitting towards the top of it. The calling carried on for at least ten minutes and although I could not tell what the bird was (smaller than a kite or buzzard, but big) it was a wonderful thing to witness.

I tried to ignore the portent of this remarkable avian encounter and told myself that things would pick up as darkness fell.

So I fished on until the bats came out, the first one wheeling past as it was barely twilight.

I did not catch anything.

I did not expect to.

And tradition was honoured.

PS – My arris was less honoured and took a long time to thaw out.

Around six months ago I did a post on T-shirts. In it I mentioned the Streatham Fishing Club T-shirts. They are now available in a wide range of colours.

I think the club is something of a virtual one, since ownership of a Tee confers membership.

Please be assured that I have no connection with them other than loving the design, but for that reason I recommend you buy one. I also suspect that wearing one will increase your fishing catch.

And I can’t help but think that there should be some coded greeting should you bump into someone else wearing one.

Knots are not something I used to think about very much, but Little Boots has been asking questions about them recently. These queries made me realise that I don’t know very many. In fact I know four, although I could be a bit shifty and double that as most knots seem to have two names at least.

They are:

1 – the Grinner, or Uni Knot. This is good for tying fishing hooks to line. It’s a compression knot that tightens up on itself and is very strong as long as you don’t cut the tail too short.

2 – the Palomar knot – another strong knot used for tying bigger hooks to line.

3 – the Half-blood knot another fishing knot, but one with a tendency to fail losing the hook and leaving a small corkscrew shaped twist on the end on the line. This can be solved by locking it off by looping the tail back through one or other of the loops – I don‘t know which, but frankly why bother – just use a Uni knot instead.

4 – and this one isn’t even a proper knot it’s a trick for tying plants to stakes – particularly with bamboo stakes which are often too smooth to afford proper purchase. It’s very simple just wrap the string 3 times around the stick ensuring that it overlaps itself and then lock in place with a double overhand knot – or a granny knot as it’s better known. It’ll never move. You will also be unable to untie it.

So I’ve started to try and learn a few knots. Whether, or how long, I’ll remember them remains to be seen. Of course I will pass this knowledge on to LB, one of whose aims is to get a Cub Scout badge, though whether there is (or ever has been) such an award for tying knots, I don’t actually know.

This then is the first new knot I’ve learned. It’s quite easy to tie and is called either the Scaffold Knot or the Gallows Scaffold Knot, though the latter name seems to be used also for a number of other knots.

scaffold knot

As you might guess it’s a slip knot that tightens very well, but is actually not too difficult to loosen provided there is no pressure on it, or it hasn’t been pulled too hard.

Well at least for a human that is. You see this particular knot can be tied with one less turn, whereupon it is called the Strangle knot, the Strangle-snare, or the Poachers knot, all of which tells you that it is a good knot to use to create a snare.