Paul's Diary

  • Friday 1st April 2016 - Game Fairs and Africa

    I managed my usual early-season day at Clywedog a couple of weeks ago. Dropping on a mild calm morning, trout were rising close to where I parked as I bought my permit. They were in a shallow bay so I got my river four-weight from the van and chucked a couple of nymphs at them. As I made my first cast the first osprey of the season glided overhead - a good sign. Stockies are always hungry, so I was kept busy for an hour before I headed home to fire up the smoker.

    The various summer game fair organisers have woken up to the fact that they need some decent trade stands to attract the right sort of customers. Several of them are still asking ridiculous prices for stands, so it wasn't difficult to make my choice. The Game Fair at Ragley have pegged their prices at 2010 rates, and seem to be attracting the right kind of traders. It is good to get out and meet my customers once or twice during the summer, so I've plumped for Ragley - it's a nice site in a good area. If nothing else, we'll have a good barbecue and a pint or two with friends.

    The monographs have been well-received and my customers are clamouring for more. I have at least another four in the pipeline for October, but it's time I had a break from the computer so I've booked a Land-Cruiser camper in Windhoek and I'm off to circumnavigate the Okavango for a couple of weeks. If the roads are OK I'll drive from Maun to Chobe, via Moremi and Savuti (where the lions hunt elephant!) and finish up looking for tigerfish on the Zambezi. But who knows? Wherever I finish up, it should be fun!

  • Monday 14th March 2016 - Fishing!

    The long wet winter wasn't conducive  to sport - it never even got cold enough for my sort of wildfowling.  However, the days are lengthening, and I've been tidying the garden and sowing a few seeds. I had an afternoon foraging molluscs on the estuary a couple of weeks ago, while Rico raced around and got in the way. He must have spiked his foot somehow because twenty-four hours later he was flat on the floor with a poisoned leg. Antibiotics soon stopped the infection and he is fine now - apart from a hole in his foot.

    Rico feeling very sorry for himself! Rico feeling very sorry for himself!

    Yesterday was the last day of the coarse fishing season, and overlapped with the beginning of the trout season, so Luke, Duncan and myself headed over the mountain to catch a grayling. The Severn can be dour in the early Spring, and a cold East wind didn't help. I did manage one of each, both good fish, though the trout was still a bit on the lean side. Early Spring is  a quiet time here, though I may pinch a day to chase Clywedog stockies. I'm threatening to have a couple of weeks driving / paddling round some wet places in Africa, looking for tigerfish and nembwe, but I've got the West Country Game Fair to deal with first.

    Hafren grayling Hafren grayling

    March trout March trout

  • Wednesday 17th February 2016 - Monographs - Made in Wales!

    We launched five books at the BFFI last weekend (four monographs and Philip White's Observation), and were joined by four of the authors. All went amazingly smoothly and we got all of the limited edition books signed and numbered. The monographs have turned out very well indeed - everyone was pleased with them, thank goodness! Saturday was pretty manic with all four authors signing books on the stand, but Sunday was steadier, and overall it was a great success.
    It occurs to me that I ought to make it known that all of these books were wholly produced in Wales - originated and published by ourselves in Machynlleth, designed by Pete Mackenzie in Gladestry (just about in Wales!), and printed in Welshpool and Llandysul!

    Colin Innes, Paul Morgan and Keith Harwood at the launch of the Angling Monographs Series, BFFI, Stafford, 2016. Colin Innes, Paul Morgan and Keith Harwood at the launch of the Angling Monographs Series, BFFI, Stafford, 2016.

    Authors Philip White and Peter Hayes on the Coch-y-Bonddu Books stand at the BFFI. Authors Philip White and Peter Hayes on the Coch-y-Bonddu Books stand at the BFFI.

    Chris Sandford takes a peek at the new Coch-y-Bonddu Monographs. Chris Sandford takes a peek at the new Coch-y-Bonddu Monographs.

  • Wednesday 13th January 2016 - Game Fairs

    This is what I said on my website last Spring:
    "We will be at the CLA Game Fair this year, but it is very likely to be for the last time. Apparently organisations like the Salmon & Trout Association, the Wild Trout Trust and the National Gamekeepers Association will not be there because of the cost of taking a stand. The short-sighted CLA, by excluding these important countryside organisations, are excluding my friends and customers, will cause further decline in my business, and hasten their own inevitable demise."
    Well, I was right, and now the void left by the CLA Game Fair is being vied for by four different organisations who are all boasting huge support - which is rather odd considering the fact that three of them have not even contacted me, and the fourth phoned and quoted me a price that would work out at £4000 for me to take a stand.
    So, at the moment I'm planning a pleasant summer at home with plenty of time for fishing.

  • More on Morgan's Marvellous Monographs!

    Angling Monograph No. 2. Angling Monograph No. 2.

    We have a busy schedule at the BFFI on 13th February. 10am on Saturday morning sees the launch of the first four titles in our new series of Angling Monographs. These are very attractive limited edition books on specialist areas of flyfishing. They are each limited to 250 signed and numbered copies and we have lots of advance orders.
    Authors Peter Hayes, Keith Harwood and Colin Innes will be with us on Saturday, signing books – though Colin has to leave before midday on Saturday so if you want to meet him come early!
    The titles being launched are:
    1. Imitators of the Fly: A History. Peter Hayes.
    2. The Lost Salmon Flies of Balmoral. Colin Innes.
    3. Angling Books: A Collector’s Guide. Keith Harwood.
    4. American Angling Bibliographies: An Essay and a Guide to Resources. Ken Callahan.

    Later we will be joined by well-known angler and fly-tyer Philip White for the launch of his new book on matching the hatch, fly-tying and fly patterns for imitating naturals: Observation: A Flyfisher's Guide to Reading the Water. This will be launched at midday, and Phil will be signing books and meeting our customers.

    Angling Monograph No. 1 - Imitators of the Fly Angling Monograph No. 1 - Imitators of the Fly

    Angling Monograph No. 3 - Angling Books: A Collector's Guide Angling Monograph No. 3 - Angling Books: A Collector's Guide

    Angling Monograph No. 4 - American Angling Bibliographies Angling Monograph No. 4 - American Angling Bibliographies

    Angling Monographs - de luxe binding limited to 26 lettered copies Angling Monographs - de luxe binding limited to 26 lettered copies

  • Sunday 13th December 2015 - Must get out more!

    November was filled with a succession of relatively small flyfishing fairs. They took up a lot of my time and, as usual, I missed the first couple of days on the pheasant shoot. None of the fairs were especially successful so maybe I should rethink how I spend my time next year.
    Back at the office I was busy getting my annual catalogue printed and mailed, and making sure that we had good stocks of lots of unusual and interesting books for our customers. As well as that I have been working on my latest publishing project - a series of Angling Monographs, relatively small specialist books on tight subjects within angling, especially bibliography and the history of flies and fly-tying; it is great fun to work on subjects which I enjoy. The challenge I am facing is to produce a high quality and attractive series while not being able to make the savings enabled by printing large numbers. Some of these are going to have a very small (but select!) readership, and I am limiting the print-runs of all of them to 250 copies. The first four books in the series are well under way and will be launched at the BFFI in Stafford in February.
    Fairs out of the way, I dug Rico out of his state of suspended animation and got out to do some beating and picking-up. Of course that was the signal for the heavens to open - and it hasn't stopped since. (We haven't been flooded yet, though it was up to the door-step last night). We have had some soakings on shooting days but it generally hasn't stopped us enjoying some great sport in beautiful surroundings.
    This week, with a group of friends, I had a small driven day high up in the hills of mid-Wales. The rain stopped and we stood in sunshine as pheasants flew high above us. There were wild turkeys in the woods with the pheasants, and the keeper said that if anyone had a sporting opportunity to shoot one, that was OK, but the gun would have to pay a £30 fine to be given to the Air-Ambulance charity. I reckoned £30 was a bargain for a Christmas dinner so when the only turkey of the day to fly over the guns came over me it paid the penalty! A nice male - not huge - twelve and a half pounds - but I'm sure it will eat well.
    Then yesterday I was back to beating above the estuary in the pouring rain!

    Angling Monograph No. 2. Angling Monograph No. 2.

    Welsh bookseller goes Christmas shopping. Welsh bookseller goes Christmas shopping.

    Back to the rain! Back to the rain!

  • Wednesday 11th November 2015 - Plugs and spinnerbaits

    I'm getting complaints that I don't keep this up-to-date. Sorry!  October was such a great month that I spent every free moment outside. Now the weather has broken and the evenings are dark I will be less likely to begrudge time spent at the computer.
    The drought continued almost to the present, so I left the rivers and lakes for the shore, where the settled weather was great for leaping around the rocks with rod and creel.
    Mackerel were so abundant that I used my largest floating lures to try to avoid hooking them, resulting in explosive takes from bass, often right among the rocks at the water's edge. I didn't catch any monsters, or huge numbers, but several of my occasional trips yielded one or two fat three-pounders.
    A visit to Cambridgeshire to meet various authors and publishers filled the van to the roof with well over 2000 books. Luckily I found room to take a light spinning rod and pinched a couple of hours on a small Fenland river. Using the smallest spinnerbaits that I could find on my last visit to Bass Pro Shops, I landed about twenty small pike and half a dozen nice perch. It was lively and exciting, comparable in interest with any fishing I have had anywhere around the world. The fish were perfect and unmarked, and, as with my Welsh rock fishing, I had the water to myself. I'm not complaining, but where are the other anglers? Fishing for stocked trout and carp?

    Fenland jack 1 Fenland jack 1

    Fenland perch 2 Fenland perch 2

    Fenland jack 2 Fenland jack 2

  • Wednesday 30th September 2015 - harvest time / on the road again.

    Our sea-trout season has long ended - without fresh water, so I left them alone at the end of the season - I took my harvest in the Spring. The Autumn has been fruitful and most evenings are spent dealing with the produce of field and shore. Yesterday I made a late visit to the rocks for prawns, loaded down with creel, net and rod. Lucky for me that I did! A really low spring-tide revealed prawning crevasses that I had never seen before, and I soon half-filled my creel. Then feeding gulls attracted my attention and I spotted the shoals of whitebait moving along the shore. As the light started to fade mackerel herded the fry into a wide bay and soon the surface was continually broken by showers of leaping fish. At first I just scooped a few whitebait out in my prawning net, but once the mackerel drove them into my shore I was quickly able to fill my creel to the brim. Then, casting a lure, I started catching some good big mackerel. I stopped at ten fish as creel and rucksack were both laden. Supper was fresh whitebait and prawns, and breakfast today was fried fillets of mackerel with home-grown tomatoes. I feel spoiled!
    Tomorrow I am off to the first in a series of flyfishing shows over the next three weekends. First is Flyfest in Penrith this weekend, then the Grayling Society AGM in Lockerbie, then the Burton Flyfishing Show at Uttoxeter Racecourse. I've got a lot of great bargains, particularly for fly-tyers. It's time I packed my bags so I think I'll ask Luke to list a few of them here tomorrow.

  • Friday 4th September 2015 - Two September photographs - friends or foes?

    The Irish Game Fair at Birr Castle was successful, though we could have used more time to explore the lovely estate and gardens, and to fish for the local race of trout, croneen. Like dollaghan, they migrate from lakes - in this case Lough Derg - and grow to a good size. I was lucky enough to catch a few of about a pound.

    Wasps on grapes Wasps on grapes

    Back home, I bumped into this pair of otters yesterday afternoon, then found my grape harvest devastated.

    Two Dyfi otters Two Dyfi otters

  • Tuesday 25th August 2015 - Season of plenty

    We've had visitors for the past month, starting with Ken from New Hampshire, then Bethan and Dewi from France, and Owen and Sara from Cambridge, so I've done little serious fishing. Instead we've been busy dealing with the produce of the garden (and the woods, the fields and the sea-shore), and feasting every day,
    I did have a spectacular couple of hours on the shore last week. Birds were working just off a rocky reef so I waded up to my chest to get onto the rocks, finding myself in the middle of a feeding horde. Of course, my first cast hooked a shearwater, and by the time I had landed and released it the flocks had moved away. Then, for an hour I caught school bass on surface plugs. Almost every cast produced a follow from fish which I could see clearly from my stance high on the rocks. I returned them all except one - a fish of about 3lb that was almost as deep as it was long. (I discovered the reason later - it had eaten eight six-inch herrings). I had to stop because of the rising tide, and this time I couldn't touch the bottom so had to swim the few feet from the rocks to the sandy shallows. I managed to keep my phone and van keys dry, but realised later that I had left my wallet in my pocket!
    I returned at dawn a few days later with my inflatable in the back of the van. It was pouring with rain and I had almost decided not to launch the boat. Then I looked over the sea-wall and saw a horde of gannets crashing into the sea only a few hundred yards away. Of course they kept drifting ahead of me as my two-horse motor pushed me out to sea. The rain became torrential, but did little to flatten the waves, and I found myself in a turmoil of water and birds, with gannets and shearwaters, gulls and terns diving all around me, porpoises within a few yards. I could hardly see because the rain was so heavy, and they were all catching fish except me! I really expected to catch a load of mackerel, but caught none, probably because they were taking herrings and the mackerel were not present. I chased the birds up and down the bay for a couple of hours, catching just a small bass and a very large weever before giving them best and returning to shore drenched to the skin. Such opportunities are rare unless you live on the shore, so despite its lack of success, it was an experience I am unlikely to repeat very often.
    The river is full of sea-trout but I have done little to molest them. I've had just a few casts once or twice, at a spot I can fish just a few minutes from my desk, and had a couple of three-pounders - they are colouring up now, as the season progresses. Almost every cast produces a take from little ten-inch sewin - let's hope they all come back next year!
    To Liverpool today, to take Bethan and Dewi to the plane, then to Ireland for the game fair at Birr Castle. I haven't been there before - I just hope the ground will not have suffered from the week of rain that is forecast. If it does rain all week, perhaps there will be some salmon in the river when we return.

    Feeding frenzy at Borth Feeding frenzy at Borth

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