Well there’s still a month to go before the end of the year, and I still plan on getting a bit more fishing in before the new year but wow… 2023 has been a year I’ll never forget for all sorts of good and bad reasons.
Here’s a recap of my year.
The fishing has been mundane at best. No big fish, no new venues, when I’ve managed to get out fishing, I could have predicted the outcomes before I left the house. Nothing special but still very enjoyable holding a rod, catching fish and spending time laughing with friends.
The four really big things in my life in 2023 have been the giving up my role at the Mersey Rivers Trust, a mega holiday to the far east, the ongoing renovations at home and the slow build of a new fishing related business. The grass certainly hasn’t been growing beneath my feet.
Here are a few photos… each one a trip, a story, a memory.. all of them inter-twined into what I consider to be a lack of fishing year.
Above all else – the work/time I’ve but into finishing off my house extension after our original builder left leaving a terrible mess has prevented me enjoying time with my rods.
When push comes to shove the local angling community has come to my assistance…. joiner/builder Alan Miraut (carp/tench angler) Plumber/carp angler Kyle Dodsworth and Kitchen Fitter/Fly Fisherman extraordinaire Phil Ball have saved my bacon…. and my house extension nightmare has been resolved… to the point where Mrs Fishing Fiend says everything has worked out ok in the end !.. (cheers lads)
Anyway…. despite spending lots of time doing unnatural things (to me) with drills, plaster, tiles etc… I have managed to catch a few fish this year.
So here’s a run down of 2023.
And then my fishing club www.salfordfriendlyanglers.co.uk suffered a massive disaster. In June 2023, after weeks of hot dry sunny weather and rivers were at very low levels… Manchester was hit by two short sharp intense thunder storms…. the first devastated my local river Irwell and Manchester Ship Canal, the next day our club venue the Old River in Irlam suffered a similar fate after a second localised thunderstorm event.
I don’t know where to begin……we lost 10,000 + fish on the Old River in Irlam and probably close to half a million fish in the Manchester Ship Canal.
By this point I’d already handed my notice in at the Rivers Trust, but these events and the lack of interest just hammered the nail home and vindicated my decision… time to move on. I’d done my best… but fighting against the system,,, the EA, the water company, the government, local authorities takes its toll… my energy exhausted,, my enthusiasm waning it was time to cut the ties and take a break.
So in July 2023 I departed from the Mersey Rivers Trust…. and set sail in my own boat again. I will always champion my local rivers, lakes and waterways and anglers rights to access them.
But I was done in, knackered by it all.. and I needed a break from everything that was draining the life out of me.
A holiday was in order. And what a holiday I had.
6 weeks in Malaysia and Indonesia did the trick,….. trekking through the Jungles of Sumatra, dining in the revolving restaurants in the tower blocks of Kuala Lumpur, the beaches of Bali, the Komodo National Park with their dragons,,, but most of all snorkelling over tropical coral reefs, checking out the amazing fish, the corals, the clams etc then spotting Manta and Eagle Rays … something I’d always dreamt about seeing… which came true… and lastly and most amazinlgy during a boat trip between islands being woken at 5am by the boats captain and being asked if I would like to swim with Whale Sharks …. bloody hell… would I. !! the worlds biggest fish.
Being first thing in the morning (i’m not a 5am kind of guy) I was a bit groggy… but was told to watch and look….. and then I saw a huge shape pass underneath the boat…. a 10 metre Whale Shark.!!! they have no teeth,,, plankton eaters .. so as quick as a flash I jumped overboard with mask and snorkel … it was amazing…. possibly the best thing I’ve ever encountered in the natural world …..
Please enjoy this short video below that was taken my a lady called Anna on her GoPro who was also on our ferry boat. We swam together with my daughter Kate… 10 minutes of my life that will stay with me to my dying day.
Wow, wow wow…. I can still hardly believe that for 15 minutes I swam with these largest fish in the Ocean… they were HUGE.. and at the same time so gentle with the swimmers sharing the space with them. The guys on the fishing boat were feeding them with prawn, and they were filtering it through their gills, then diving, circling and coming back for more food. I touched their skin as they glided past…. like sandpaper and their bellies covered in sucker fish,
When I finally climbed back on board… my eyes were as big as saucers… what an experience.
It was the most amazing holiday, Orangutans, Dolphins, Manta Rays, Eagle Rays, Komodo Dragons, Coral Reefs, Tropical Fish, clear blue seas, white and pink sandy beaches… brings a tear to my eye writing about it – happy times – why can’t life always be like this.
We all had the best time, not only on/in the water, but the beaches, the jungles, the cities… all brilliant experiences
All good things come to an end, and back home to the UK we came…. back on the tools at home, a return to our never ending home improvements (a gable end rebuild and loft conversion, a new rear kitchen extension, the conversion of outside loo and coal shed buildings into a new office and downstairs bathroom, knocking through the rear walls to open plan the living room into the new kitchen, and the re-purposing of our old kitchen into a new utility room).
In order to salvage my mental health damaged by excessive levels of DIY i’ve sneaked in a few fishing trips.
There’s no real theme to my fishing this past year – just get out and catch a few whenever I can…. so I decided to try a location I’ve always fancied,,, the upper tidal limit of the River Mersey in Warrington. Easy riverside parking next to Mc Donalds, and just fish over the wall into the river.
A short lob over the wall with a maggot feeder with an 18 inch hooklength to a size 16 hook with double maggot gave brisk sport, with a bite a chuck,,, roach, perch, chub, dace and an obligatory eel… great fun, easy fishing and definitely a spot the possibility of bigger fish (some great perch following the feeder in !!) in the future.
As time has been limited, my local Bridgewater Canal has been the location for quite a few short sharp trips/stolen hours
Last year I was catching some big roach and bream from this peg, but this year nothing but small stuff… very enjoyable nevertheless and always guaranteed a bit of action
The summer turned into autumn, the trout season closed with me only getting out once in 2023 with my fly gear… a bit disappointing really
I spent a bit of time raking out the swim behind my house at Drinkwater Park… but then only fished it once for an hour before the trowels, paint brushes and DIY took over.
The autumn weather has been atrocious, Manchester now appears to have a monsoon season between the end of September and the beginning of December… miserable weather and a miserable fisherman…. longing to be back on the white coral sands of tropical islands… thats me.
I’ve got my eyes on a few winter swims on the River Irwell in the centre of Manchester – thats going to be my winter thing…. and when the trout season re-opens in the spring… I’m going to get my Vice back out and start tying some flies again,, and go for some trout fishing on local rivers.
At the start of the post I mentioned that I’ve started to sell fishing tackle online — well on eBay…
Its been something I’ve been building up slowly over the past 3 or 4 years. Next year this blog will start containing links and adverts to the stuff I use…. no better recommendation for fishing gear than a blog post showing how to use it, and a link to buy it.
Tight lines to you all….. my 2023 has been an interesting year with lots going on… hopefully there will be more fishing gear going on in 2024
2024… more fishing
Less plastering !!