…and learning from past mistakes.
With the frosts forming with more regularity and the longer dark nights dragging on, there really isn’t a better time to start thinking about organising yourself for your next trip to distant waters. Next years fishing holiday may seem such a long time away but whilst the natural instinct of being indoors early each day sets in why not turn it into some productive ‘you time’?
If you are anything like me there are 101 things I mean to do through the warmer months but often never get around to doing them. I am very much an outdoor person and try and make the most of every available hour of daylight pottering around outside. There seems to be a natural reaction with many to stay indoors more than usual once the daylight hours disappear.
I do force myself out at least one evening a week after dinner for a few hours angling. I really enjoy this during the winter months getting mostly my first choice of swim everywhere as most others are tucked up inside watching the TV etc. I must admit that when the frost is forming or perhaps the rain or snow is falling it can be a bit of an effort to leave the warmth and security of my home. Once out there though, I love it and just a few hours bonus angling leaves me feeling that I have accomplished something for me.
But there are other evenings when I am not out and about. I have never really been a big TV fan like so many others appear to be and prefer to keep my mind a little more active. This last week I have spent a little time trawling through the internet looking at various venues I have been meaning to find the time to look into. In many instances there are videos available now which I find a great help when finally making my mind up as to whether the venue would suit me or not. It seems that almost everyone carries a video camera around these days and the quality has never been so good or so cheap to achieve as it is now and thankfully with sites such as You Tube you can generally find something about almost everywhere you can imagine.
Once you have found a venue you fancy visiting why not begin the organising now to make sure your hard earned holiday comes up to total expectation?
I don’t know if it is the years creeping up but after so many years of fishing with minimalistic kit and small shelters I have finally got to the stage that I don’t mind admitting I enjoy a little extra comfort whilst on the bank, particularly when away for several days. My last French trip I vowed never to go away for a week again without a double skin bivvy. I left the outer skin/canopy behind to save space in the car this last October but in hindsight I would have been much more sensible packing that and leaving some of the spare clothes out of the kit.
We had a lot of rain and in next to no time my sleeping quarters were wet through with condensation, caused mostly by water rising out of my damp clothes. Had I taken the canopy it would have been much easier to keep the bed area drier by fishing from the extended canopy section and leaving wet clothes there. I have been carp angling over 35 years but still make mistakes.
Ron who I was fishing with had taken his extended canopy and was living in much more comfortable quarters than I was. So, why do I mention this? Well with another summer drawing to a close it is a great time for picking up a few bargains. The tackle trade is coming towards its main trade show period and the shops get to know what new items will be released for the next trading year. This usually means they get tempted to drop prices on existing stock in order to make room for newer versions of the same. The newer versions don’t all end up as being improvements on the older ones either so now could be the time to snap up that larger bivvy or indeed an extra skin for your existing one.
Similarly a lot of anglers start selling a bit of their kit at this time of the year to make room for new kit when the weather warms again or if they have been given the nod and the wink about new product being released. Your next long session may be some time away but a little bit of hunting around during these long dark evenings could save you a fair bit of money later. Plus of course Christmas is just around the corner. Start making a list of what you have seen and would like for your next trip.
Not everything costs an arm and a leg and many items are cheap enough to make you feel comfortable asking people for when they ask what you would like for Christmas.
One item that I always carry but rarely see anyone else with is my Basha. This is basically a large lightweight waterproof sheet that has lots of attachment holes and loops for anchoring with pegs, elastics or just simple plain cord. My Basha screws up to almost nothing but has been used for so many different things. It is perfect for throwing over a barrow to protect your gear or for covering tackle up in the rain whilst you get set up. It works great for a bit of shade or to keep the weather in general at bay if used in the manner they are meant for and on our last trip we even made a quick canopy over the front of Ron’s extended canopy to give even more room during a long prolonged period of rain. Personally I dislike being bivvy bound and the Basha at least gives the impression of being outside rather than having walls all around you.
You will get change from a £20 note with a lot of the Basha’s you will find for sale. Some you will even get change from a £10 note!
Whilst mentioning the Basha I must also mention the Grunt Lines that I also find invaluable and work well in conjunction with the basha. I must say I hate conventional bungee straps with the hooks on the end.. I have witnessed too many accidents when the strap has suddenly failed and the hook has ended up in someone. A friend was incredibly lucky when one went into his eye socket without doing too much damage.
Since first seeing the multi-purpose ‘Gruntlines’ I have retired my bungee straps. Gruntlines are basically a woven rubber strap with snap hooks on the end that won’t do anywhere near the same damage as a hooked end should something go wrong. The woven elastic that looks like woven catapult elastic can be parted and things hung from the gaps due to the incredible grip the elastics have. There is usually something close by to stetch the elastic between and straight away you have a washing line as well as somewhere to hang rubbish and bait away from troublesome ground scurrying vermin. Like the basha my Gruntlines are also used on the barrow and for many other purposes. Their only limit is your imagination.
I also have a black fold up water bag that can be hung from an elevated position and once the sun gets on it you would be amazed at how hot the water inside becomes. It even came with a warning when I purchased it to be careful! Even when the sun doesn’t warm it as much as it can it is nice having warm running water on tap. I have an adaptor with mine that turns the outlet pipe into a small shower head.
A table is another thing I like with me when on long sessions. Not a tiny bivvy table but a conventional height, fold up table. They look bulky but packed in the car first everything else sits on top. You will find a big range in the camping shops and since I first used one I must say I miss not having one around.
I like to sit at a table first thing in the morning with a coffee whilst scanning the water and making notes in my diary. I find it nice sitting and eating at a table rather than off your knee and just as importantly it is nice to be able to work at table height whilst putting fresh baits on and altering rigs as well as cooking at a sensible height rather than struggling along on the floor.
Yes, I like a table but see so few others used by other fellow Brit’s although our European cousins tend to use them a lot.
One final thing I will mention is some sort of mat between your bivvy and your rods. This bit of bank is going to be walked along constantly during your stay and on some banks the ground ends up in a mess all around your bivvy door so the mess ends up being trampled inside. A mat cuts a lot of this down and also helps prevent you from constantly kneeling on small sharp stones that have found their way into your bivvy. I have used all sorts of things for this and I used to buy those cheap grass/reed beach mats whilst at the coast for this purpose and simply throw them away after the weeks angling. Old bits of groundsheet can also be used. Whatever you choose it has to be better than a mud hole in front of your bivvy door.
Finally and this is a must have. Don’t take chances of catching Weils disease. It can be a killer. I never fish anywhere now either at home or abroad without a bottle of Dr Weils hand and surface sanitiser with me. Go fishing without it at your own risk. You have been warned!
I have simply mentioned a few items here that I find incredibly useful but rarely see others with and you don’t need to break the bank to add any of these items to your kit. Remember when you go away you are on holiday, you are meant to enjoy it. There is little satisfaction to be gained from roughing it in bad weather. Why not indulge in a few creature comforts and make that whole experience as comfortable and as enjoyable as possible?
Get on that computer and start trawling through the internet to see what money you can save by starting to get ready for next years trip, now.
Finally, what items do you carry that you are surprised more people don’t carry?