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Tuesday, 6 January 2015 10:43:19 Europe/London
Northumberland, Englands last frontier!Read More
Monday, 10 November 2014 16:22:00 Europe/London
Three 'Top Tips' for Winter Fishing
When I looked out the window last weekend contemplating whether to fish, it was clear that Winter was well on it's way. The days are shorter and the nights colder and for most this means it's time to give the rods and reels one last clear and pack them up until the spring. But for many, it's an opportunity to try something a little more challenging, and a lot colder.
If you'd like to extend your fishing season into the winter months there are a few things you may want to think about to help you enjoy and benefit from extending your fishing year.
1. Stay warm and Sheltered
- Base layers – Back in the day, this would have been a vest (Or some longjohns) now there are many, many solutions including clothing specificallymanufactured for the purpose of staying close to the skin adn traping a layer of warmer air against the skin.
- Mid layers – Comfort and warmth are key here. Think fleece, wooly jumper or Hoodie, essentially something that is soft and easily removed in the unlikely event that you get too warm..
- Wind Proof/ Insulated jacket – Find something that is not only wind and waterproof, but also has padded or fleece lining.
- Footwear - This is the part of my body that's the first to feel the effects of the cold. Neoprene wellies are a fantastic option for warmth and comfort
- Hat and gloves – Almost HALF of your body heat is lost through your head, so a hat is an absolute must! A quality pair of gloves are important too. I prefer the fingerless option, which allow better access to rods, line and bait
For many types of fishing it also helps to take some shelter too. During the perishing temperatures we experience during our winters a good quality bivvy or shelter is well worth considering as a base.
These days, most shelters are quick and easy to erect, and offer excellent stability even in the strongest winds. If possible, you should also purchase a winter skin for your bivvy to increase warmth and eliminate condensation.
2. Food for thought
I'm never at my best on an empty stomach, but standing next to the water, cold, watiing for a bite isn't my idea of fun. Staying well fed before and during winter fishing will help you focus and keep you're body fuelled. Hot food clearly is the way to go here and hot, home made soup is about as good as it gets. It's hearty, wholesome and delicious. But best of all it's full of goodness and your body will thrive on it.
While I understand you probably won't want to carrytoo much extra weight, for me a quality flask filled to the brim is a must.
Another vital ingredient for a successful winter fishing session is plenty of warm food and drink. It’s amazing what a nice slurp of hot soup can do for your spirits.
Although you don’t want to be carrying any excessive weight, you should always try and pack a good quality steel flask of hot tea, coffee or soup. When it comes to bankside cuisine, ditch the bulky camping stove and go for a compact burner instead. Dried packet mixes are easy enough to cook, and make for a nice hot meal.
3. Great winter bait and tackle
Most anglers know that during the winter months as the temperature drops, a fish’s metabolism slows down. This means that they need less nourishment and therefore seek less food than during the warmer summer period. That means you'll need to alter your choice of bait in order to encourage them to take. These great baits will help you catch even the most stubborn of fish:
- Pilchard Oil - Dripping some oil on your bait is a great way to extend the life of it and attract lazy cod to bite.
- Salt – Many Anglers believe in adding just a little sea or rock salt to your bait as a great way to get maximum attraction in cooler conditions. Just add a sprinkle to maggots, casters, pellets or corn.
- Maggots - If you’re fishing for carp, a mesh bag of maggots, along with a bunch of grubs on a hair-rigged maggot clip, is one of the most reliable winter carp tactics.
- Spices – Spicy flavours have long had an association with winter fishing. A sprinkling of turmeric on your live bait or a touch of turmeric on corn is a great way to spice up your bait.
- Peperami – These little spicy sausages are perfect for winter fishing. They’re highly attractive to carp, chub and barbel. For maximum effect use small chunks with a scaled down line and small hooks.
Remember that in the winter the waters we fish generally become much clearer which makes it far easier for fish to spot threats in and out of the water. Scale your tackle down accordingly, fishes energy levels will be lower and should allow you to drop a hook size fairly easily.
As always, there are many opinions and strategies for fishing during colder months, these are simply 3 of the most basic and obvious for you to consider as you contemplate extending your fishing season into the winter period.
Monday, 20 October 2014 16:22:48 Europe/London
So, here’s a statistic for you… according to figures released this week by Police, UK 0.025% of legally held firearms in the UK, are lost or stolen each year. The annual trend is downward, but of course one stolen weapon is one too many! However, with such a relatively low percentage of firearms being stolen, it was a little surprising to hear this week’s news that Police forces cross England and Wales are planning unannounced checks on legally held firearms.
I’ve watched the ensuing social media debate with interest and it’s fair to say there are two sides to the story. Many, for example, think that this is simply a way to ensure gun owners are taking all necessary precautions against the possibility that a registered firearm is lost or stolen. Others, of course think this is a step too far and yet another intrusion into the lives of the responsible gun owner, who has done all they need to, to comply with Police policy and legislation.
But should those who enjoy owning and using their own firearm, either for sport or work, really be subjected to yet more scrutiny? After all, the application process for owning a gun is incredibly thorough these days and rightfully so. I have some sympathy with those who believe that more Police visits are an inconvenience, but I don’t believe they are more than that. And just because the power to conduct these impromptu visits exists, doesn't mean that they will be used.
Those who take owning licensed firearms seriously and treat it as a privilege, not a right (Which I’m very pleased to say, is the vast majority), surely have nothing to fear. Properly securing your firearm and home/ work premises against the possibility of theft is part of your obligation as a licensee and should always be the number one priority. If your gun(s) are secured in accordance with the readily available guidance from your local Police force, then a visit is likely to be no more than a cordial; hello, check, goodbye.
If the government have made their decision, what are the alternatives options? More stringent application process in the first place? Other than psychological test I’m not sure what more could be done. More frequent reapplication for licences? I think the current process creates more than enough work and red tape for the Police and licensee. Organised and diarised checks? Maybe, but this doesn't act as a deterrent to those not complying with policy day in, day out. Perhaps, the very thought of an unplanned visit, at an unspecified time, is simply enough to discourage any momentary lapse in attention to security… surely that is a good thing?
There are many in society who, sadly, would love to get their hands on a firearm for all the wrong reasons and it’s with this in mind that I think an additional check is simply another way of insuring you and others against the worst happening. If you are in any doubt about how to secure your firearm or what the Police may look for, you can find information here
Monday, 20 October 2014 16:22:48 Europe/London
This summer has proved to be challenging, even for the most experienced of anglers. Catches have been relatively few and far between, with water levels in many of our rivers, being the lowest they’ve been for years! One of the local water bailiffs who spends time in our high street shop in Berwick, told me that the River Whiteadder (A tributary of the River Tweed), has had the lowest water levels he can remember… and he’s fished those waters longer than I’m sure he’d care to admit.
For most avid fishermen, we can put this year down to a dry season, pack our gear away for a rest and move on to think about what we’ll catch next year. But, for kids it’s very different, they don’t have the same context or frames of reference that we do, about the balance of good years to slow years. We know that not every fishing season is going to be great and when combined with kids short attention spans, that could result in a real turn off for them. With this in mind, we need to take measures to ensure they remain interested, if we are to pass on our enthusiasm for the sport we love. My kids love fishing, but they get bored pretty quickly if the fish aren’t jumping out of the water at them in their hundreds!
So when the fishing gets slow, be sure you have a ‘Plan B’ to make any trip a memorable experience for them. Fishing doesn’t have to be the purpose of your trip, just a part of it. If you’re fishing on private land for example, ask permission to take a BB or air gun and shoot targets or maybe some archery equipment would help keep them occupied. Make their first time trip as much fun as possible, and the chances of them wanting to go again are very high indeed.
Here are a few things you may want to consider when you take the kids fishing;
1) Go somewhere you and the kids have a high probability of catching a lot of fish, like a stocked pond or fishery for example. Many of which are designated as a family friendly, community fishing areas. It’s the perfect way to encourage kids to spend time outdoors and where they’re almost sure to catch a fish.
2) Alternate and experiment with the type of fishing you do (Sea fishing, Fly fishing, Boat fishing etc) to give them a sense of variety and options.
3) Go somewhere you can combine fishing with other activities, for example: camping, shooting air guns or archery or hiking
4) Make it fun! Let them reel in every single fish if that’s what it takes.
5) Take friends with you - Speak with other parents and go as a group to enjoy the experience… kids love being around an engaged set of adults and having a ‘story’ to share or discuss with close friends afterwards
6) Always have a rod handy – Keep a travel rod in the back of the car. Some of my best experiences fishing with the kids have been entirely unplanned!
7) Leave when they are ready to leave, please don’t keep using the “Just one more cast” excuse as a way of getting another hour by the lake or shore line. This is probably one of the most important things to remember. If the kid is ready to leave, most likely they are getting tired or bored. If you don’t leave, then it will likely push them away because they will associate fishing with being boring or tiring.
I certainly don’t have a monopoly on ideas of how to get kids outdoors and keep them entertained, but these are just a few of the things I’ve tried while sharing the great outdoors with my children. The most important thing is simply to get kids involved in enjoying the great outdoors and that’s what matters. They are the next generation and the future of; fishing, shooting and all the other outdoor activities we love so much.
Tuesday, 7 October 2014 11:12:51 Europe/London
To most people, the internet and Social Media will appear to be an anathema to pursuits such as hunting, fishing and shooting. Tweeting and selfies and viral-sharing(!) are all, on the face of it, the activities of people with too much time on their hands.
But dig a little deeper and the truth emerges.
A simple search will reveal how popular outdoor pursuits really are. Facebook has dozens of forums and pages and groups related to fishing, hunting and shooting. On Twitter if you do a simple search for “fishing” you will be astonished at how many people use their “I caught this enormous fish” photographs as their profile picture.
So, what does this mean to the average enthusiast?
As with any passion a person may have, the desire to share experiences and knowledge goes hand in hand with a need for acceptance and learning. After all, this is the intended purpose of Social Media, selfies of over(under)dressed teenagers holding glasses of wine and pictures of cats notwithstanding. Connecting with like-minded individuals, sharing best practice and building relationships is a benefit of this modern technology that cannot be easily dismissed.
Social Media, when used as a tool and not as a hobby itself, enables us to dive ever deeper into our pastimes and can enrich our experiences. For people interested in country sports @gamefairdirect and our Facebook page are excellent examples.
There is, predictably, a dark side.
Now that everyone has a voice, opinions aren’t kept quiet any more. People will have opinions on everything and the anonymity of the internet emboldens people, often to the point of rudeness and aggression.
Not everyone agrees with field sports and on several platforms nothing is private. Posting a photograph of your catch, or an animal you’ve shot, can provoke unfriendly reactions from people. And as previously noted they’re often quite belligerent with it.
There are literally people whose accounts are nothing but an attack on hunting, and who could forget the Melissa Bachman story? Social media turned that into a circus, if not a witch hunt. Not to mention the Steven Spielberg story where he was roundly attacked for posing next to a “dead” Triceratops.
The moral of the story? Social Media can be enormously beneficial to the country sports enthusiast, but develop a thick skin.