Saturday, 30 October 2010

Bream Tench and Blanched Maggots

Hi, Autumn is with us again, doesn't this picture make you want to get your rods out.
In this post I'm going to carry on with the process of revealing my top ten favourite fish. So far I've covered the eel, which due to its sliminess and hook swallowing capability, came in at number 10. Spot number nine was taken up by the big girls blouse of the freshwater fish world, this is the thickest of all fish and is of course, the Pike.

This week we will start at number eight, a place that is filled by the humble bream. This fish ought to be called old snotty because it doesn't half put some mucus on your line. It is hard to describe the bream's fighting capability because it has about as much fight as a jelly. In fact the bream has only one redeeming factor and if it wasn't for that it wouldn't appear in my top ten at all. The reason it is in my top ten is because they are relatively easy to catch. They will take a wide range of baits and there is no need to worry about fishing the right depth for this fish. All you have to do is make sure your bait is nailed to the bottom. The first shot should also be just on the bottom and about nine inches from the hook. Plumbing the depth is very important when fishing for bream and more can be seen about that in my angling book. Click here to see details
Another thing that I discuss in the book is the need to make sure that you get rid of all the slime off your line after catching a bream. I know it's a bit mucky and it could turn your stomach if you are half way through a bacon butty, but get rid of the slime, because you won't get another bite until you do. Fish might not be the most intelligent creatures on the planet but they do have instincts and if they see a long string of their mate's mucus strung between bb shot and a lump of sweetcorn, they are apt to give it the cold shoulder.

Anyway, as long as you keep your line clean the bream is easily caught and comes to the net very easily. And that is why it's one of my favourite fish. I have won many matches in my fishing career and the bream has played a major part in a lot of them. In fact there is only one other fish that has consistently contributed to the number of competitions I've won. That fish, and you might be surprised what it is, comes in a number two so you will have to wait a few posts to find out what it is.

The Tench is the next fish in my top ten. Like the bream this fish also has a problem with slime, but not quite so bad. I have a soft spot for the tench because it's a good looking fish and a lovely shade of green, unlike the bream the tench can put up a very good fight.

On the downside, they definitely seen to like the early morning approach and are probably one of the first fish to decide that breakfast is over and they'll go and sleep for the rest of the day somewhere under a big patch of weeds. They don't bother with lunch and won't be seen again until they come out for a bit of light supper.

So that's why the tench only comes in at number seven. It is good for the pleasure angler and I've had some good tench sessions, but it's a fish that has never contributed to helping me win an angling competition. This is probably because most competitions start after the tench has had its fill and gone back to bed.

For the record, and perhaps it doesn't seem so good nowadays, but back in the early seventies I caught my best ever tench. It was a specimen of 5lb 4oz and was considered such a specimen at the time that it was reported in our local newspaper.

I know a tench of that size wouldn't get a mention now but at that time any tench over 4lb was considered a very good fish. Anyway I caught the fish at a venue called Copmere, which is just north of Stafford. At the time the fishing rights were with GEC angling club, but I think it is now in private hands.

It was at Copmere, that one of my regular fishing companions introduced me to the joys of blanched maggots. I would hasten to say that it was also the last time I used blanched maggots and hope I never come within sniffing distance of one again. You can find out more about the blanched maggot escapade in my book.

In my next fishing post we'll take a look at number six a fish with attitude.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Dunskey Gardens

Hi all,
There is no doubt about it, the south western corner of Scotland has some spectacular gardens. In this blog I have previously described visits to Logan Botanical gardens and the wild splendour of Ardwell House. We have been to Glenwhan and seen what beauty can be wrought from virtually nothing..The garden we are visiting today, Dunskey, may not be as well known as some of the gardens in the area and that's a shame because it's one of my favourites. This garden has got it all; the usual flower beds and ornamental ponds etc, but it has so much more
I'm sure we can all appreciate well planted herbaceous borders and specimen plants and it is heavenly to walk about taking in the scents and admiring the planting combinations.
However, when you've taken all that in, Dunskey has something extra to offer, especially for those who visit during May. Beyond the lovely garden you will find a pathway that leads to two, small scenic lochs. Between the two you will find a path that meanders through the most delightful bluebell walk I have ever trodden.

The second loch, complete with boathouse, is in a glorious setting that is enhanced by the careful intervention of a top class gardener. I would recommend any visitor to Logan, Ardwell, Glenwhan and Castle Kennedy, to take a look at Dunskey because it is wonderful.

I think that being less well known adds to it's charm because it hasn't been commercialised at all. Whene my wife and I walked this garden, we must've been there for the best part of two hours and we never saw another soul. Peace and quiet in perfect surroundings, what more could anybody want?

Dunskey gardens is never far from my thoughts. In fact I was so impressed that I use one of the photos for the desktop background on my computer. So now, whenever I switch it on, I'm transported back to paradise.
For more information about me, my books or writing services, Click here

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Good News

Hi all
Finally the distribution gremlim has been put to the sword and my book is now available. "Writing: How to get Started as a Freelance Writer Plus a Guide to Self-Publishing & POD" can be purchased in paperback from most on-line retailers for only £7.99. If you go to Amazon via my website (link at the bottom of this post) you will find that it also includes delivery, which makes it a bit of a bargain.

However, I know many people don't like to spend more than a fiver on anything so here is some more good news. A kindle version of the book is now on sale at Amazon for the really low price of £4.20. For a book that is packed with so much information, that has got to be good news.

Here's just a reminder of what the book is about. The first part is aimed at those who you want to take up freelance writing. They may not know how to get started, or even worse, they may be showered with so many opportunities and ideas that they can't see the wood for the trees.

The writing game is awash with so many ideas that many a would-be writer just gets drowned before they find dry land. My book shows the best way to get started and move on to become established. I don't like blowing my own trumpet, or using well worn cliches, but I've been there and done it. I wasted more time than I care to remember chasing false hopes. The truth of the matter is, too many opportunities were waved in front of this gullible face and like a hungry fool I snapped at most of them. My book helps you avoid the traps and concentrate on areas that can bring success.

The first part of the book is dedicated to making sure the would be freelance writer doesn't waste precious time. It provides a clear strategy that will lead to publication and just as importantly, getting paid. Somebody said, "Only fools write for nothing" and I reckon they were right.

The second part of the book takes a look at the options that revolve around self-publishing. When most people think about self-publishing they think of vanity publishing and that's a mistake. Don't let anybody try to convince you that self-publishing is for failed authors with enourmous egos, because it isn't.

More good news; times have changed and self-publishing can be not only self-satifying, but also a lucrative enterprise for a lot of good authors. Let's face it, there are lots of brilliant authors out there all banging away on their keyoards day and night, but only a few get a tradditional publishing deal. Publishers want to make money so they are conservative about taking on new writers, which means the debut novelist has little chance of being spotted.

Anyway, regardless of how good your writing, getting a publishing contract is not going to happen for most writers, so this brings us back to self-publishing. My book examines 6 different models that any would be author could try. These range from handing your manuscript over to a company who will do everything for the author at one end of the spectrum, to the other end, where the author takes his book files to an independant printer. It also discusses in some detail the opportunites that are offered by internet companies like Createspace, Blurb and Lulu. These companies and others like them will allow the author to produce and publish a book for less than £10 so that can't be bad can it. Obviously, there are pros and cons and a lot will depend on the authors own circumstances and expectations, but it can be done and it is easier than you think and my book will show you the way. I have done it twice and you can see the results on my website.
Anyway, I'll leave you with the link. Goto my website
I also aplogise if this post seems like an out and out plug for my book, but I know many people who read this blog are intrested in writing. Those of you who are waiting patiently for the next post about my tour of Scotland will be pleased to know that it will be out in a couple of days.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Top Ten Fish Chart

Hi all,
A couple of posts back, I showed you a picture of a fish. Not only was the species of this fish unknown to me, but it must be the ugliest fish I've ever caught. I've shown it again here so that new readers can see what I'm talking about.
Anyway, during the same fishing session on the doughnut pool, at Baden Hall fisheries nr Stafford, I also caught what I think is the most handsome of all our fresh water fish. I won't tell you what it is straight away because I thought I'd give you my top ten fish and you can see how they compare with yours.

So let's get down to it.

10 The last spot in my top ten goes to the eel. Slithery and covered in slime; it invariably swallows the hook and that is very annoying. The eel is also surrounded by folklore and I heard that if you caught an eel the best way to keep it still is to dig out a small trench in the shape of a cross and lay the eel in the vertical part. Apparently, so the wisdom goes, it will never move again. Well, I tried it after catching a specimen of about 2lbs. I thought I'll take this beauty home for my dad and so I dug out the trench in the shape of the cross and laid the eel in it on its back as per instruction. I think rigor mortise must have set in straight away because it went as stiff as a blacksmith's hammer. Pleased that I'd learnt something new I went back to enjoy the rest of my fishing session. Perhaps you can empathise with my disappointment when I tell you that about three minutes later, the eel slithered past me and jumped back into the water with all the grace of a high-board diver. It did two and a half somersaults, with twisted back flip and I'm sure it paused to wink at me as it entered the water without a splash.

No, I'm not much for eels, they go into the same category as crayfish and bullyheads they're just not worth catching.

9 Now some of you may be surprised by the fish that occupies my number nine spot; it's the pike. The only good thing I can say about this fish is that mother nature gave it some lovely markings. The pike is a beautiful fish, well at least from its gills to its tail. The bit at the front however, is down right gruesome and reminds me of my auntie Ethel. Here is a fish that promises so much; it looks ferocious and promises a good fight, but even on light tackle it comes to the net like a damp sack.

Going beyond the lack of fight, the pike must also be rated alongside the most stupid of all fish. In my book "Fishing: Learn from the Tips & Laugh at the Tales" I dedicate a whole chapter to talking about the stupidity of the pike, but let me just tell you this. Many years ago I was spinning for pike and, during a moment of poor concentration, I cast my lure into the bottom branches of a tree that was hanging over the pool. As I stood there cursing at my own stupidity, a pike jumped out of the water and hung itself on my spinner. I couldn't believe what I was seeing or believe how daft or hungry Percy the pike was. Anyway, Percy thrashed his tail in the water with such gusto that it managed to shake itself free. Meanwhile I pinched myself and hurried around to the tree to retrieve my spinner before a duck or a moorhen should get caught on it.

If I tell you that before I got to the spinner, Percy the Pike jumped out of the water and hung himself on it for a second time you will understand why I think Pike are the most stupid of fish and not really worth the bother of getting the rods out for.

I'm afraid that if you want to know which other fish come in my top ten, and which I rate as the best of all I'm afraid you'll have to wait until my next fishing post.

Meanwhile, if you want more information about my books, please take a look at my website. You will find a free download of a sample of my fishing book and notice that it is available in a Kindle version. The price of the Kindle version was an introductory offer and almost a give away. If you want to take advantage of this very low price I suggest you get in quick because the price will be going up shortly to something more realistic and sustainable.
Click here to go to my website