Thursday, 11 October 2018


44lbs 4ozs of classic common carp, stalked in the margins with a float
There is nothing that is ‘impossible’ of course, not when it comes to freshwater fishing … and Martin Bowler and friends proved this when we made our series of nine films for Ch 4.

a tench fishers double delight
an estate lake tench for Bernard as described in our book
Everything is a long time ago when you’re my age and when we started filming this series with Bernard Cribbins on July 22nd 2004, little did we know that like 'A Passion for Angling’, our series would still be going strong more than fourteen years later.

Our name ‘Catching the Impossible’ was part catchy title and part a challenge to see if we could catch huge fish to order, preferably with under-water images to match … but the idea of a three-pound river roach was our most wildly optimistic target.

the incomparable Terry Lampard with our 3lb5oz River Stour roach
The fact that our close friend Terry Lampard actually achieved that impossible task on film is testament to his skill and determination, for it equalled his PB and at the time was probably the only three-pound roach in the River Stour. It was an amazing day and will always remind us of our sadly departed friend.

yet another 7+ chub for Terry and our cameras
Martin Bowler probably matches Terry in his angling skills and perseverance as well as proving to be the best possible company in our long quest for the targets. He started well, landing our fifteen-pound barbel on the upper Ouse within a few hours of our cameras rolling.

our first days filming beside the Gt.Ouse - what a golden start ... but it wasn't always as easy!
The fact that it would surely be impossible to catch such a fish from Adams Mill or Kickles Farm now is a sad reflection on the demise of many small river barbel. Likewise the marvellous big perch fishing that Martin enjoyed in the Bedfordshire Ouse before and during the making of the films. He’d caught more than twenty perch over four pounds but we never imagined that this monster of 5lb 4ozs would slide into the landing net as we looked on in disbelief. The Angling Times suggested at the time that it was the biggest river perch ever caught in the UK.

at 5lb4ozs a simply awesome perch
another catch from our book with film clip details
We’d set our hearts on a forty plus carp and felt lucky that we caught a beautiful common that matched Dick Walker’s famous Redmire record. We caught it stalking in the margins too.

The size of carp has increased so much since then that I guess we would have set our ‘impossible’ target at fifty pounds but one fish that would always be a challenge is a thirty-pound pike, not from a trout reservoir but an ancient estate lake.

job done and at 32lb 6ozs an 'impossible' pike that graced our series
When we finally landed that monster we knew that our four years of filming was complete … and in spite of all the difficult challenges of big fish and poor weather we hardly had a cross word and remain the best of friends.

happy days with Chris Yates plus roach and perch
It was a remarkable and unrepeatable adventure and one that lives on to this day in the three DVD’s that Martin is selling in his on-line shop. There are three one-hour films on each DVD and all are narrated by the incomparable Bernard Cribbins.

Bernard's 22lb plus of hard fighting pike
He appears in many scenes and never let us down when we needed him to catch. We’d have included him in every scene as he and Martin got on like a house on fire but sadly, Bernard was busy filming Dr.Who at the time, [I think he got his priorities wrong!] along with TV and theatre work, so wasn’t available.

the boxed set of great fishing and wildlife which ... so we're told, won't dissapoint!
If you want to share our triumphs and disappointments, the three DVD’s are available individually … and when we have made some more copies of disc 2 [it sold out] we will sell the series as a boxed set with a slip case.
friend, relation and jammy bar-steward John Wilson with Oulton Broad's biggest pike

DVD’s        = £14 each + p&p
DVD’s X 3 = £42 for the set + p&p

Martin also has copies of ‘A Passion for Angling' for sale.

Saturday, 22 September 2018


Chris Yates with a cracking crucian
                       Elusive. Enigmatic. Exasperating. 

All these words could be used to describe the beautiful crucian carp, a bar of gold living in a world of weed and mud, drawing us anglers magnetically to some of England’s most beautiful watery corners.
a perfect haunt for crucians and anglers to live life in peace

Sadly these watery corners are becoming rare and the crucian is threatened by hybridisation and extinction in many of its’ previous hiding places.

a superb example of rare British wildlife
Happily, anglers love them so much that they are doing all they can to save this rare species of wildlife by creating new places for them to live and one such group is my very own Wimborne and District Angling Club.

I’ve been a member for thirty-seven years and Thursday 20th September marked one of my happiest club days ever. Driven by a need to save the crucian, members have created a new haven for them, along with happily cohabiting tench and we celebrated the opening of this new fishery on Thursday.

restoration started with a green carpet of weed and deep mud

several days of skilful work by Nick Lawrie

mud dumpers were driven by club volunteers
there was a lot of mud
Restoration of this totally silted and almost dry lake was achieved entirely with volunteers from the membership, guided by our crucian guru Peter Rolfe and galvanised by our club Secretary Stu Hitchman. 
Crucian guru Peter Rolfe advises Club Sec. Stu Hitchman and Match Sec. Jim Finch on the best route to success

The project started two years ago by asking for support from the Angling Trust, the Angling Improvement Fund and the Environment Agency and they all proved to be a tower of strength. Our landlady Julia Smith has been wonderfully supportive too.

heading towards completion
full up and protected from cormorant predation
Once the dredging and building of a new monk for drainage was complete and the lake allowed to mature, perfect baby crucians from the EA’s Culverton Fish Farm were stocked. Tench were added soon after and all have thrived in the crystal clear, rich and weedy water, fed from a small river that eventually makes it’s way to the River Stour.

Even happier news came this summer as Stu and I were carefully clearing swims and found several baby crucians hiding in the weed. So even since last December they have already bred successfully. The future is bright, the future is gold!
what beautiful creatures cucians are

The opening of a new club lake for crucians needs to be celebrated so our Chairman Mike Hirsh gave the opening address to acknowledge all the help we have received from so many.

Martin congratulates the club and it's supporters on a job well done
We were also fortunate that the Angling Trust’s Campaigns Manager and ex. MP Martin Salter agreed to come to celebrate the clubs' success, to open the lake and make the very first cast.
"I name this lake ... open" Chairman Mike Hirsh, President Brian Heap, crucian guru Peter Rolfe and ace writer Chris Yates

That’s where the pressure started because I believed it would be a completely damp squib of a party if he didn’t catch. It fell to me to prepare and bait several swims so that our first days fishing might be a success. Given the late season, we weren’t likely to catch a crucian but by raking and feeding the swims over several weeks, I hoped some tench might come out to play. Luckily Martin is an excellent angler and second cast he landed a beautiful, fast growing tench, fattened on the lakes many invertebrates and plenty of sweetcorn.
No pressure then! Photographer and writer Dominic Garnett, advisor Peter Rolfe and James Champkin of the Angling Trust

second cast and this tench certainly knows how to fight for it's freedom
the future in the form of this fat and fast growing tench

a crucian displays it's healthy growth

Our Vice President Chris Yates also caught two tench and saw a six inch crucian roll, so they are growing fast.

the old cane creaking as a tench fights for freedom
the tench have doubled in weight in less than a year - it's a very rich water
Chris and I are the best of friends, in spite of what we inflicted on each other for so many years
The day was a double celebration for us both because twenty five years ago “A Passion for Angling” was showing on BBC 2. It took four and a half years to complete and there were times when I felt like doing this to him and no doubt Chris felt even more like strangling me. Actually making the films was great fun … most of the time!
our president and treasurer Brian Heap with another plump one

ace digger driver and shed builder, Nick Lawrie
Appropriately our President Brian Heap and our chief digger and builder, Nick Lawrie also caught tench, so it was job done and time for champers, plus a feast provided by members’ wives, a meal that would rightly be insulted if you called it a BBQ. Brian then gave words of sincere thanks to all those who achieved so much to make the restoration a success. Didn’t they do well!

a very happy gathering
Our club is going places because they show what can be achieved by forming partnerships and working as a team. I can highly recommend membership and the large numbers of excellent waters that we have to offer … which now includes a dedicated crucian and tench lake.
Pinnock Lake is going to be a marvellous asset to the members of the club

wonderful roach fishing on the lovely River Stour just below Wimborne
It will soon be time to trot a float down the local river Stour for the increasing stocks of prime roach and I can’t wait. 

Gold in the summer, silver in the winter. What’s there not to like!


If you want to learn more, please visit our Website and Facebook pages ...

Sunday, 26 August 2018


                                TERRIFIC TENCHING

six of the best to start the day
It’s difficult to imagine anything more enjoyable than a misty dawn beside a tench lake with the promise of hot sunshine to follow and thankfully we’ve had plenty of those to melt ourselves in this summer.

such a beautiful spot you don't even need to cast in
I didn’t have time to continue my annual quest for a double figure tench so I satisfied myself with ‘average’ tench from a beautiful gravel pit not far from home. It’s a peaceful spot, principally a carp lake but with plenty of red-eyes to savour and with the carp sulking in the heat and seemingly impossible to catch, I had this large lake to myself. No bivvy-peg bashing, crashing spods or too loud bite alarms ringing out – bliss.

another six plusser to add to the tally
Even if the carp weren’t feeding, the tench certainly were. I only blanked once in four sessions and that was only because I got smashed by one while float fishing by the lilies and then done in by a carp that certainly was. In fact, I often saw lots of signs of carp leaping and bubbling so felt the carp boys were missing out. They were not alone, for when checking through my diary I was surprised to find I'd only been four times - what kept me away?

a battling male to enjoy in the sunshine - what a scrapper
On one memorable session I landed eleven tench, including several fives and a few sixes, so that day was certainly memorable, even if some might sniff at the average size. In my book, I’m so fond of them that any tench is a good one and really small ones are as cute as fish get.

Like almost every angler, I would love to catch a tench over ten pounds but am stuck on 8lb 9ozs and unbelievably, that weight has been repeated on five different waters! So, if you’re reading this and want to invite me to join you on a BIG tench water, then please go ahead!
carefully and quickly back to his watery home

Although I always prefer to fish with a float, on this occasion I decided to try this ‘new’ technique called ‘Method Feeder’! Yes, OK, I’m behind the times but also proud to be a traditionalist. So having read plenty about it in the angling ‘comics’ as my wife Sue rudely calls them, I reckoned I knew enough to make a success of it. So, as instructed, I cast frequently for the first hour and avoided the noisy kersplosh of my spomb.

the quiet wait for a bite - perfect
As match anglers do, I had two swims on the go, widely separated to attract different fish and avoid what seem like the inevitable tangles when fishing two rods. I fished both at 39 yards only because they are my lucky numbers! Yes, sad I know but …

yet another cracker - I began to lose count
Much to my delight, it worked a treat and before long my buzzers went into melt down and the first tench was nestling in the landing net. Several more followed and even if I don’t think bolt-rigging is particularly sporting, it’s certainly effective.

One advantage it has of which I do approve is that it gives you more time to enjoy the waterside scenery and watch the wildlife, just as important as catching fish for a nature nut like me.
alarms turned right down and taped up so they don't scare the wildlife - or me

Chris in action on the weedy back bay - a delightful spot and tench heaven
On a couple of days I was joined by friend Chris Wild and being as keen as I on float fishing, suggested he try a shallow, weedy lagoon beloved of tench. Having raked his swim and baited up, it soon became a jacuzzi of bubbles from feeding fish but turning those signs into tench on the bank proved difficult.

Reverting to small baits wasn’t an option because of the shoals of ravenous rudd. I’m sure Mr Bowler would have cracked the problem in no time but in the end Chris gave up with the float, cast out a boilie armed method feeder and by the evening had landed three tench, including his PB.

Chris's tench PB of 6/7 - extracated with diffculty from the weed - he was quite pleased!
He was chuffed and equally so when he joined me on another day and beat his PB by a few inches on only his third cast … on the method feeder again of course. The tench looked like a seven pounder but weighed less than his true PB, though what a cracking fish.

an even bigger tench but not quite as heavy
I too tried the weedy lagoon one evening and having raked the chosen swim and added a few broken boilies, the water surface was soon covered by tench bubbles.

the magical 'lift method'
Initially I couldn't turn these bubbles into bites but adjusting the placing of the shot to create a more sensitive rig, I enjoyed a classic lift bite, the float rising slowly before sliding below the surface. A gentle strike resulted in a battle in the weed but eventually I teased the tench out and into the net.
a fat fighter - I think she'd been on the spinach

the magic and madness of bubbling tench
I thought I'd cracked it and expected more to follow. The tench had other ideas and simply blew bubbles of derision into my face until dusk closed around us to end a splendid day in the countryside.

what a gorgeous time to be 'out there' - with or without fish
Interspersing my tenching were several trips to Christchurch Harbour for a serious dose of mullet madness … and when you catch the fever that goes with trying to fool these wonderful fish, it’s difficult to stop … but that’s a story for another time.
rivers meet - the Avon and Stour at Claypool - dawn magic