Hedley and his grandson Sebbie came along for a coarse fishing lesson. Hedley used to fish matches back in the 70s, whereas Sebbie was a complete beginner (one of many youngsters inspired to try fishing by TV programs such as Chasing Monsters).
They were soon in action with the whips:
The roach were being very finicky and there were many missed bites and some quiet spells, but they caught a few:
Sebbie learned to cast with a rod and reel and managed one
roach on this method:
He then went back to the whip for more roach and this nice
Hedley was finding angling to be just as enjoyable as it ever was, even after a 40 year layoff:
In the afternoon I was joined by Sam and his son Hector,
back for another session after trying fishing for the first time with me back
The fishing was even slower now and after a while Hector
asked if we could try the river. It turned out to be a good idea. He had bites
straight away from minnows:
Then he had some chub and dace:
Towards the end he caught a cracking dace (no picture unfortunately) and a decent roach:
Sam had been a bystander so far, but had a quick go with the whip and immediately had a dace (not as big as Hector’s, I should point out!):
It was going to be Hector’s birthday the next day. I understood from Sam that a set of fishing tackle was the main present this enthusiastic young angler was going to receive.
It had been great seeing the different generations enjoying fishing together.
I’m involved with a group called Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society which is working to preserve access for anglers on Hampstead Heath. There is some great fishing on the Heath but recently some areas you used to be able to fish have been closed off.
We’re offering tuition to local schools and these sessions have proved very popular. The first one got under way on the Boating Pond at Highgate in heavy rain, but this was no deterrent to the children:
Everyone caught plenty of fish and enjoyed themselves:
After a while the rain stopped as the youngsters carried on learning new skills and enjoying the fresh air and peaceful surroundings:
A couple of weeks later we ran another session. It was quite
hard going with fewer fish biting. Catch of the day was a large perch – by a young
girl trying fishing for the first time:
This boy was equally happy catching small rudd:
Let’s hope we can preserve this brilliant London angling
venue for the next generation of anglers.
For more details about Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society, please contact chairman Bob Gibbs – email: email@example.com tel: 07946-630045
Strong winds were forecast for the last week of the river
season, which ends on 14-Mar. Not ideal for either fishing effectively or staying
comfortable, but with time running out there was no option but to give it a go.
The first session started unconvincingly when I tried to
fish amongst reeds which were thrashing in the wind and constantly catching the
line and hook. In my next spot I was very exposed and starting to feel cold
despite having layered up. A missed bite told me fish were there but I didn’t
want to freeze solid trying to catch them.
Then I had a brain wave: the nearby weir pool island would offer
shelter and an easy cast into the pool tail. Ten minutes later I was settled in
there, totally protected from the gale blasting through the tree tops, warming
up nicely in the sun and getting into a much more positive frame of mind.
A gentle lob put my swimfeeder on the edge of the current,
with a small worm on the hook. For an hour nothing happened, then the quivertip
twitched before pulling forward. Tightening up put me in contact with a heavy
weight that at first refused to budge. After boring about on the bottom and
then waving its tail at the surface, a good bream of 6lb 10oz eventually came
That was it for the day (apart from two missed bites) but it
felt like a minor triumph given the shaky start. As I packed up, heavy rain
started falling, quickly turning into sleet as the wind picked up a notch.
Three days later I had another go. It was still very windy so it was back to the weir pool. While I was tackling up an EA employee came along saying fishing was not allowed there. Rather annoying, but anyway I went off to try somewhere else.
In my new swim the quivertip was jumping around too much in
the howling wind so I decided to hold the rod and feel the line for bites. This
had the added advantage that I could sit more comfortably, sideways on to the
The sound of the wind and the constant ruffling of the water meant I could hardly hear myself think, but there was no mistaking the first bite. A series of plucks on the line was a clear signal cutting through the noise. Just a small chub of about a pound, but very welcome. Shortly after I felt a decisive pull and on lifting the rod found myself playing another similar sized fish:
The wind chill was getting to me, so again I had to walk
away from biting fish. I didn’t mind too much, as I knew another more sheltered
spot that should be worth a go – the junction of the main river with a lock cut.
Casting into the middle is usually productive here, but
after an hour I was still biteless. It occurred to me that with the river
running fast after the recent rain, it might be better fishing a bit closer to
the slack water of the cut. This quickly brought a 6oz roach on worm. On the
next cast something more substantial took hold. Another good bream, 7lb 4oz
Minutes later a sharp jab on the quivertip signalled that
another fish had located the worm on the riverbed. It was putting up a rather
bream-like nodding resistance, so I was surprised to see the bold stripes of a
large perch looming up out of the murk. That went 2lb 10oz:
Walking back in the dusk along the deserted river bank, I
reflected on a rewarding couple of days.