Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Baffled, Bemused and Bewildered at Bewl....

The first, and only, Rainbow

....but not because I didn't catch fish - I did!

We were advised on arrival that hand fish were tight in to the bank and about six feet or so down. That didn't make sense to me, as tight to the bank would be very shallow in most areas and in the weed zone. If the fish are close in, they are invariably chasing fry - this time of year the fry are small and usually hidden in the weed.

I decided to stick with my original plan which was to have a floating booby on the point and two flies on the dropper - a bibio and a hare's ear buzzer. This means that a the flies are on or very close to the surface - certainly not 6 feet down. Andy Lush from the Friendly Fisherman always advocates shallow fishing on this reservoir, and he's fished here for centuries!

Harry and I let the boat drift as close as we could and very soon I had a take on the bibio fairly close in to the trees and I finally landed a strong, feisty 2 pound rainbow - the only rainbow trout I was to catch today. I didn't feel the take, really - the line tightened and that was about it.

My leader was trashed so I put on a new one, with only one dropper this time - the bibio - but with my favourite pearly pheasant tail nymph on the point. This fly might sink to perhaps twelve inches or so, but not much more. We were drifting along the bank, but about twenty or so yards out when I put the rod down to pour a welcome cup of tea. As I reached for the flask, the reel screamed as a trout took the dropper again and pulled my rod towards the water. I grabbed at it and eventually landed a nice Bluey of about 2 and a half pounds. These fish are a rainbow trout variation with turning the back of the fish a dark cobalt blue instead of the usual greeny hue and without the rainbow coloration around the gills. 

Easy, this fishing lark. Two fish and not a clue as to how I caught them...

We stayed in the area for a while longer but without success and so we moved a couple of times finally ending up in the Bowl area.

A Bluey...fat and chunky

As we began the drift I saw a fish which appeared to be feeding on the surface; I cast over towards it and as I began the retrieve I had a solid take and another Blue Trout was leaving the water in its attempt for freedom. These fish really are strong fighters, leaping from the reservoir 6 or 7 times during the fight. I nodded apologetically towards Harry, who mentally shrugged his shoulders. We know how it can be; fishing partners rarely catch together - either one or other has a better day than the other. I fished here three times in a row last year with hardly a take or a fish to be seen while Harry netted his limit each time. 

About an hour before it was time to pack up, I had my last fish of the day, another solid, chunky, hard fighting Blue Trout of around three pounds. There wasn't much of a breeze, hardly any fly hatch that we could detect, yet these last two fish had taken the point nymph barely below the surface.

 I think Andy Lush has got it spot on..

Me? I still don't get it!

Fish on....

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


A Big....Rooster!

It's been a while since we had a chicken update and quite a lot has changed over the winter, not least our two new additions. We have obtained a couple of hens from Annie, my sister in law; Dilly Dilly - a lavender bantam who has so far laid one egg, and Flo a white, daily layer. So we're now getting, on average, four eggs a day - which is useful - but hardly a money earner! However, we don't buy eggs now, so that saves us about a fiver a week, but food costs us about £4 per week. Oh well.

I have also obtained a larger coop and a covered area with it, so the hens are a little more comfortable in all the wet weather we've been having, and it also gives them a larger area in which to run.

A very tame Pheasant....

...also eating me out of chicken feed....

We have a tame pheasant who comes right up to the run when I'm feeding and watering the chickens, and he now has two women whom I also have to feed..but it is handy having all the eggs we need for cooking and breakfast, so I have absolutely no regrets.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Bread Making Popular Front - The Cake And Bake Show at Manchester

A Wonderful looking loaf (Thanks to Debi Davis)

Whilst attending this show with my wife, Frankie, one thing became quite obvious to me over and above the popularity of the Cookery phenomenon that is the Great British Bake Off and the appeal of "Celebrity", and that is the growth of interest in bread making. There were easily half a dozen or more Flour companies at the show in one form or another together with another half a dozen artisan bakeries selling baked breads directly to the public. There was huge interest and attendance at the Bread Baking Demonstrations with people like Paul Hollywood and Dan Leppard extolling the virtues and the ease of baking your own loaf.

You could buy the kits with all the ingredients in one bag, or you could buy artisan flours, nutty flours, Canadian Extra Strong flours, quick yeast, bicarbonate of Soda, seed additives, crunchy additives and plain or self raising flours.

You could easily obtain eight or nine different loaf tins including a really shiny Hovis Tin I had my eye on all weekend - for £32 - a price I couldn't justify, even after winning second prize on the Traders' Grand National Sweepstake, run by my friend, the incorrigible Barry Davies (Also inspired to bake his own bread this weekend). There were spatulas, stirrers, slicers and peels - and, naturally, there was advice on how to use all of the above. I was really very happy to see so much variety and expertise available and I know of many people who were encouraged to bake their own loaves who perhaps wouldn't have been minded to before hand.

It's the enthusiasm that I enjoyed much more than the commercial aspect of the show. Look at the photograph at the top of this piece, kindly loaned to me by Debi Davis (@debidavis1) who was obviously inspired at the show - and she bought one of those lovely looking tins - and you can see just how bread could be inspirational - what a fantastic looking loaf. That one photograph encapsulates everything about the show for me - Bread, Shiny Tin and Atmosphere. People are really and genuinely interested in baking bread at home for the health aspects as much as anything else.

Including water, there need only be four ingredients in bread, three if you make a sourdough starter, so next time you go to the Supermarket and buy bread in a bag, check how many ingredients are listed, if its more than 4 or 5 then it ain't healthy and it ain't real.

I encourage you to try baking your own - it's easy, it's healthy and it's fun....

GBBO stars Cat Dresser and John Whaite