Brian Holland

First time making a lure during lock down 1.0

During the first lock down in march 2020, I decided to have a go at making a lure out of anything I could find in my shed. And here is how it turned out.

First I got a piece of wood.

I marked out the shape of the lure in pencil

Then I shaped it with a chisel and a plane, This is because I only had 1 blunt chisel and a plastic plane and some wet and dry paper

I then added weights to the bottom used AAA leads and a bit of brass then filled it in with filler. As i did this I tested it in then sink to make sure that it floated upright.

I then added 3 U nails to either end and the bottom

Being Happy with that, I marked out the decal.
Then added paint. I found some water color paint at the back of the shed
Then I coated it in lacquer
Added the treble hooks
Luckily I have a small pond to test it in, so I attached it to my lure rod

Then happy with that I added feathers from some old sea fishing tackle

Hey Presto. Not brilliant but shows what you can do when bored and with little equipment. Just try making one it is fun


Brian Holland


Please Note that this fishing trip was done pre lock down 3.0 and as a blogger I follow the guide lines set out by the government concerning travel and fishing locally.

Well arriving at the lake at about 3 pm to set up for a few nights fishing with a glorious sun dropping behind the trees I was on for a good couple of days, what happen should have been expected.

As usual I set the rods out with one 14mm pink pop up and one 14mm white pop up both on multi rigs.  The pink one casting against the side of the dead lily pads and the white one about a rod length from a dead tree branch that poke out of the water. Both were topped over with about 10 soaked up winter boilies. With the average depth being only 3 foot across the whole lake I was not expecting much action, but I believed I could pick up at least one bite.

The first bite came at 7 pm on the white pop up and after a short battle a small mint mirror was in the landing net. After a picture I put the rod on the same spot and retired for the night.

I was then woken at 2 am with a single bleep off the same rod. So, I went outside to check and found that the lake was frozen, I lifted the rod and in did there was a fish on the end. I only manage one rotation of the reel before everything locked up in the ice on the lake.  As much as I tried I could nit get the line through the ice. So, I returned to the bivvy accepting the fact that the fish will discard the hook as I was using barbless and deal with the rod in the morning.

Waking up at 5 on the next day, I checked the lake and was still frozen (funny that). I checked the weather, and it was due to have some sun in the morning so was hopeful that this would defrost the lake. So, as I waited drinking coffee after coffee contemplating how, if it did not defrost how to get the line out. 

At 11 in the morning with the lake still frozen, it was time to try and get my line and rods back. The idea was to get the spod rod and put a 5 oz gripper lead and cast onto the ice to break through.

After a few casts around the first line, I slowly broke the ice, with a small gap at least I would be able to get the rig back, So I retrieved the first rod lifted into it to find that the fish from 2 am was still attached to the hook, it must have just sat there all night.

 Now my work was on to break the ice to form a channel from the line entering the water to the bank, With over half an hour of casting I managed to create a 1 foot wide by 24 foot channel to be able to land the fish, As I picked up the rod the fish now decided to have a scrap underneath the ice as I slowly bought it back towards the back as it got closer I could watch it going left and right under the ice which made playing the fish in all the easier as I navigated it towards the landing net.

After 15 minutes it was in the landing net, a small common graced the bank for a photo.

After releasing it I now cut another channel across the lake to the second rod and bought it in.

At this point I packed up and went, no not home but to a deeper lake which I knew would not have frozen for the rest of the session.

The _bridge_troll

Brian Holland

Riding the Storm

It was boxing day, when most people are with family still full of the day before festivities for one, I go fishing.

The storm was forecast but that was not going to stop me fishing. Torrential rain, 50 mph winds, what more could an angler want.

After barrowing four times around to the swim and everything safe in the bivvy, I set about getting the rods in position, One with a winter bottom bait cast half way across the lake under some power lines that stretch across the lake and the second a natural pop up cast to the far reed where I had seen a fish come out three times, This cast has to be done in a crouched position to make sure that you get under the cable, after three casts of which two dropped short I was in position.

With rods cast for the night I sat in the bivvy with the fire to add some warmth to counter act the cold winter night.

Sitting by the lamp, I put the kettle on for a cup of tea with the wind increasing slowly, flapping the sides of the bivvy, Cup full of steaming hot tea I wait for the alarms to go off, knowing my luck it will be at the height of the storm tonight, Bella was going to pound me.

Midnight was the first beep of the alarm, whether it was the wind or a fish I do not know but with head torch on I was up and looking intently at the rods. Nothing, I wandered around the bivvy pushing the rent pegs back into the ground and putting the hood that had folded itself back over the bivvy in place. Looking at the weather report the wind was in full swing for the next couple of hours and the rain was yet to come. I waited in anticipation.

Now at 2am, sleep being discarded as the four walls of the bivvy being continually battered by wind and rain, I sat drinking coffee. Luckily, it was a bright moon so through the bivvy door amongst the rain drops and the shaking I could see the lake. Every now and then a bleep as the wind caught the line in the correct direction to send a signal to the alarm and receiver.

At 4.30 again a blast parted the Velcro at the top of the door blasting rain into the bivvy. I was up putting the door back together, now with waterproofs on, I ventures outside with head torch on, I inspected around the bivvy replacing three pegs that had been drawn from the ground and pushing back in another two and then returned inside waiting the wind to die down completely, according to the weather app I had still one and a half hours to go.

Now mid-morning with the storm now over, I repaired and positioned the bivvy and sat pondering on re placing the rods with the pressure now dropping thus was looking good. With coffee and breakfast out of the way, I set about re baiting and change the colour of the pop up to my normal yellow to see if I could induce a bite and the other rod, I replaced the bottom bait with a pink pop up. With both rods now under the power line midway across the lake

Just after midday, a single beep came from the right-hand rod, as the rod arced to the left, I was in. The pink pop up under the power lines was off. I let it run it hopes that it would wear itself out a bit then slowly retrieved line; it was staying deep in the water. After ten-minute battle under the rod tip, with the fish taking line then me retrieving the line the fish was slowly guided to the landing net. This was my first Christmas fish after 4 years of trying I was graced with a 14 lb common. With Pictures taken it was sent back home and the rod placed back out on the spot.

The sun decided to shine all afternoon which gave me a chance to dry out all the wet gear from last nights storm. With the lake looking like a mill pond with the winters sun reflecting off the surface is why we go out in all weathers

Life is good.

#the _bridge_troll

Brian Holland

The Man in the Mist (A Christmas tale)

Come, come join me for what I am about to relate to you would be no surprise to the locals of the area.

Essex is filled to stories of hauntings by ghosts, Witches inhabiting villages still to this day after being cast to the pyres by a certain Matthew Hopkin, 

Draw up a chair by the winter fire as I tell you a tale.

It was late when I got there, and the rain had been lashing down all day making the ground around the lake a sodden sticky muddy swamp. There were other people on the lake on arrival, but I managed to get a swim I fancied looking across the lake at its deepest points. I started setting up the bivvy first to keep the fishing gear dry as I slowly trudge back and forth through the mud from my car. By the time I had set up all the other fishermen had pulled off for the night leaving only myself.

The weather had turn and a mist descended upon the lake and the swim. With the rods set I retired into the bivvy for some warm food and to watch a film whilst waiting the bite alarm to scream off.

I must have nodded off because as I woke, I could see a figure on the opposite bank setting up in the mist. It looked like he had an old oil filled lantern which made the mist around him light up as it swirled in the light breeze making the silhouetted man drift in and out of focus.

Even though the mist could impair the vision across the lake, I could tell it was a rather thin man, quite nimble as he flitted from one side of the swim to the other setting up his rods ready for the nights action. From what I could tell as soon as he was set up the light was extinguished, and the mist enveloped the area taking away any sight of the man.

The moon was a Waxing gibbous with a clear sky, the rain had now ceased, the mist was a bright white as it reflects the moons glare. The lake was like a mill pond, with the mist settling just above it. I had no view of the lake and if one of my alarms was to go off, I would be playing the fish by feel.

So, I retired to my bivvy to settle down for the night

Now I woke to the sound of a little jiggling of a bell through the mist, looking across the lake I could see a figure on the side of the bank playing a fish. Within half an hour the little jingle started again and again through the mist I could se the figure playing another fish.

My alarms stayed silent as I listened to the little jiggling one after another.  As the gentlemen opposite continued to catch fish one after another.

It was just after one am that the bell started jiggling constantly, more than before echoing through the mist. Getting louder it continually rang. Looking out of the bivvy I could not see the figure as before. Suddenly sounding through the mist, a large splash as the bell kept on jiggling.

He has fallen in, I rushed to put my clothes on and leaving my rods I was running around to the opposite side of the lake. All I could here was the bell through the mist, ringing, ringing.

I reached the top of the swim through the mud-soaked ground I hurled myself down the embankment, Still the bell kept ringing.

Reaching the bottom nothing was there, No rods, no bell, No man.

My head torch caught the water as I gazed around puzzled and confused, a face, A bloody face staring in agony back up at me, the dark black eyes open. I plunged my hand into the water grasping for the body. Something to grab to drag the poor soul back to land. But nothing, no body but a face still staring as it sunk deeper into the lake, Stricken I grasped again now plunging the top of my body into the water keeping my head just above the surface. My hand touched something, something metal. I stretched again as far as I dare clasping between two fingers, I pulled up a single bell.

Brian Holland

One at the Club Lake

With the cold nights drawing in I have changed my fishing from Saturday through to Sunday.

The carp fishing taking main stage, as with all the rain lately the rivers and basically un-fishable.

Over the last two sessions I have managed to lose a fish, on both occasions would this be the case at the weekend.

As I am booking my winter fishing holiday which will comprises of 4 days on Suffolk Water park, I am having to change the way I fish, as they do not allow barbed hooks, so this week I am fishing with a bottom bait as well as a pop up.

I got to the lake and it was empty, so I had a stroll around to see if I could spot any fish. As it is shallow through most of the lake, being about 3 to 4 feet deep and this is where most of the weed is even though it has died back it is still beneath the surface.  The deeper water is towards one end that also has reeds.

I chose a point swim where I could access most of the lake on a cast. To the left which was towards the deeper water I cast a 15mm boilie on a size 6 hook with a standard hair rig and the right one a multi rig with a pink pop up towards the weed bed.

Over the top of both, I catapulted about 8 boilies that had been soaked in glug just to get some attraction into the area. The black chickens loved it, swimming over and diving down to retrieve the free food. Sitting there watching the greed little thing I noticed that it stopped diving and was keeping a distance away from the spot. This was because a carp had moved in and 3 little beeps of the alarm and I was on the rod playing a fish.

For the first time in a while, it was nice to play a fish in day light as most of the bites of late have been in the hours of darkness, so I was able to see the line in the water and the direction it was heading supposed to feeling the direction. It headed for the reed bed but the distance it had to cover to achieve this I had full control and steered it away into open water. The fish was now in front of me trying its best to get under the other rod that was going out into open water. As I do not use back leads unless I really have to, this can cause problems with landing fish when you have a small swim area, but this not being the case it was landed safely (apologies for not having a long-drawn-out battle to entice the reader).

With the fish in the landing net, I prepare everything on the bank, Scales, camera etc then bought the fish up into the cradle. Its was a lovely 18lb common.

With the weighing and photo’s done I set it back to its home. Unfortunately for the rest of the session it stayed quiet, but I am not complaining as this is winter and I am fishing for bites.

Happy Fishmas to all our readers and I hope your lines stay tight for next year.


Brian Holland

Tips for Winter Nights

Its winter and temperatures are dropping, So you have decided to do a night on the bank, except for the change in style of fishing, keeping warm is essential as if you are cold you will not fish efficiently, you will not enjoy it and you could get hypothermia (not good).

Here are my tips to keep warm during the night. (not in any order).

Heater: Gas heaters are cheap, and I find I am using it to warm up the bivvy in small blasts as that will keep on top of the cold. I used it at the beginning of the night but always turn it off when I go to sleep. if I wake up either naturally or to an alarm, I again will have a small blast just to take the edge off.

Sleeping Bag: I would say the most essential of all. Buy the best you can, they are seasoned so look for a four or five season. When retiring remove enough clothing to make you comfortable, remember sleeping bags are designed to keep heat in and your body temperature will be retained by the bag. I always place the removed clothing in the bag, so it is still warm in the morning. If you are cold putting layers on will warm you if you have slept in all your clothes you will stay cold.

Clothes: Buy and wear thermals under your normal clothes as they are designed to trap body heat, wear thin layers which can be removed and added if hot or cold. I also always wear gloves and a woolly hat as a lot of body temperature is lost through your head.

Hot water bottle: Yes, a hot water bottle, putting this in the sleeping bag prior to getting in. This is bliss, especially if you have cold feet from the day, I find keeping your feet warm keeps your body warm.

Water and Food: Make sure you have plenty of water to boil and food that can be cooked. You cannot beat a hot cuppa tea and a toasted sandwich on a cold day.

A towel: As the floor of the bivvy is cold, I always put a folded towel on the floor where my feet go, when I get out of the bed creating a little warm area for my feet to be on.

Bed: Store all your bags and non-used items under your bed as this will create a barrier between the cold floor and the underneath of the bed keeping the underneath getting cold and transferring it through to you as you sleep.

Second set of Clothes: I always carry a second set of clothes in case of rain. Even though I have wet weather clothes I always carry a second set as if I get wet, I changed to dry clothes, wet ones will only get cold.

Flask: Fill a flask prior to going to sleep, if you wake up you have hot water for a drink without waiting a kettle to boil.

Car: If you get cold and cannot warm up, reel in the rods, and go turn on the engine for a while to warm up.

Go home: If all else fails and you are extremely cold, do not be a hero go home. The fish will be there for the next session.

Safe fishing guys and girls remember it is not carpy to be dead.


Brian Holland

Mugged off under a full Moon

Full Moon: A lunar phase when the moon appears fully illuminated from the earth’s perspective.

Mugged Off: To be disrespected and or insulted and made to look a fool. i.e. when a fish picks up and moves your bait without hooking itself.

Bacon Sandwich: Rashers of Cure Pork Strips placed between two slices of bread.

Now winter has started to fully grip and push the temperatures further down to and past zero the search for and the capture of carp becomes harder, gone are the days of the cruising through the upper layers basking in the sun light then dropping on kilos of free offerings. We now enter the time of year where patience is sitting there watching for the slightest signs with rods tackled up, waiting to be cast at the smallest show this is now singles territory. For me high visual, glug soaked citrus flavours for maximum impact.

Arriving late Saturday afternoon I set up the rods and cast out for the night, Now this being contradictory to the first paragraph because light was fading fast so with no time to sit there and watch the lake. I knew the area I was casting to having fish here week in week out, with every intention to walk round in the morning, as you can imagine just a pub chuck bought not a bleep on the alarms.

Early Sunday I pulled the rods in and took a walk looking for signs but none were apparent, so I stayed in the swim I was in as it looked over the lake and with everyone else leaving and having the lake to myself I knew I could cover at least 70% of the lake on a cast.

With the rods now armed with a yellow pop up on one multi rig and the other a pink, I sat back and watched the lake for the slightest sign, Checking the weather forecast the pressure was average and the cloud cover should stop a drop in temperature it was also noticed that it was full moon time. Now full moons are mythical in carp fishing with top fishermen debating over the affect they have on fish; I personally am unsure but there is no point knocking anything that could give you an advantage.

I sat and watched.

After 3 hours I noticed the first little sign in the distance, marked the area in my head the first rod with the pink pop up was cast across the lake towards the opposite corner at about 60 yards. As I said being the only one on the lake this cast took out five swims across the lake. The rod was bought back up the bank and put on the alarms. Both rods are positioned on top of the bank at about 6ft off the water, this gives me the advantage of fishing over any weed that has died back beneath the surface of the water and also any run I don’t have go down a flight of muddy steps to the swim below in the middle of the night. The swim being used only for landing and weighing any captures.

Another 2 hours and another small sign across to the right-hand side over a weed bed into a swim that had been vacated early where the angler had taken two bites on Friday night. This was taken up with the yellow pop up again around the 60 yards, with light fading fast I retired back to the bivvy for coffee and dinner and hopefully the carp gods to give me that one take through the night.

4.30 in the morning the left-hand rod let go with 4 little bleeps, in seconds I was next to it watching the bobbing slowly re position itself back to its holding position. Watching with anticipation waiting for it to move or scream off, neither was to relieve me of my wanting so retiring back to the bivvy I put the kettle on. Another bleep and again I was out to see the  bobbin closer to the wet ground, turning the spool to retake the slack up seemed a lot as the bobbin kept dropping, so slowly hand retrieving the line was the realization that I had been mugged off. The last bleep was enough to establish that the lead had moved by at least a foot, I could still feel that it was on gravel so still in play as I returned once again to the bivvy in hope of another chance.

All went quite and not a bleep was to be heard for the rest of the session fortunately I had time to put on the frying pan to make a bacon sandwich or two.


Brian Holland

Quick one on the Stour

Waking up at 4.30 on Saturday to be on the road at 5 to get up to the river pant for a mornings perch fishing with Russell and Andy was the easy bit, arriving in the dark and tackling up under a head torch. I was ready to head down to the river. Getting down to the river it was a disappointment that the water was clear and extremely shallow after an hour of walking and flicking lures into the opposite margin it was decided to move on and head for the river stour. parking at Clare we walked back towards a bridge casting as we went again it was low and looking at the banks it was about a foot down, finding a 20 yard stretch of deeper water we found the perch and they were eager to attack our lures.

Russell taking the first two at 27 and 34 cm in length on spro perch hog. I had still to get a nimble. so raiding Andy’s lure box for a matching hog as I only had watermelon, I received my first hit then another, After an hour and exhausting the area Russell had 6, myself 4 and Andy 2 all on the same set ups.

After a bacon roll we moved on to find other areas, we found a nice stretch further up the road where Russell and Andy hit a couple of jacks we headed back down to the chelmer where I showed my gymnastic ability after slipping down a slope and at the last minute swinging my legs over the water back onto the bank, so with a muddy bottom we went back to the cars were we parted ways as I went off to do some carp blanking for the rest of the weekend


Brian Holland


As I sit here with all the modern trappings for carp fishing, costing hundreds of pounds. Nothing is sentimental and can be replaced at a click of a button. Even if you think you cherish it you don’t unless you have had it handed down and it belonged to someone who had sadly passed away, such is the case when my father gave me his business partners MK IV cane. I do not know how my father had it as Chris was still alive when he gave it to me. It was worn, tatty with damaged eyes and cracking all along the cork handle. I am lucky enough to work with a gentleman called Ian Jillings who in the past was a rod builder, I asked him if he would kindly refurbish the rod, he agreed and I hand it over to go to the rod hospital.

Unfortunately, in life we hear of illnesses to people we care for this was the case with the original owner Chris who I was informed had cancer and was in hospital. The urgency was on to finish the rod so I could take photos to send to Chris of his old MK IV. With regret this was not to happen as Chris sadly passed away two days prior to me receiving the rod back.

The craftsmanship of Ian was exceptional, all the eyes had been removed and the cane had been re lacquered, the cork handle filled and reworked backed, all the eyes had been replaced with matching original ones with the original coloured whipping. This was a beautiful rod and just a shame I could not have shared this with Chris.

Now I required a reel to suit the rod as a modern one just did not suit it, I tried a centre pin but again it was not quite right. So on to eBay looking for old reels, this is where I came across a 1967 Mitchell 300. A bargain at a tenner and it needed refurbishing as well. So, a quick click of a button it was purchased. When it arrived the first thing was to do a total strip down cleaning all the parts, the body and the spool was handed over to the paint shop of the firm I work for. Whilst I repaired any damaged parts. The body was repainted black and they also re infilled in white all the decals. It was now ready for re assembly. Again, the work carried out by Andy, Wayne & Cath was exceptional and it looked new.

As it was a carp rod, I filled the spool with 15lb line. The reel was now ready to be paired with the rod. I believe they were meant to be together as it suited it down to the ground.

I use it occasionally mostly for surface fishing, the action is completely different to what you get used to using with a modern rod and with this set up you learn to play a fish but it is totally enjoyment.

This is now cherished, and I hope Chris would be happy with accomplishment of so many people to bring it back to life, those involved in the refurbishment many thanks.


Brian Holland

Including the Kitchen Sink

It was simpler back then and now if you have not got the kitchen sink you are not fishing.

My fish recalled fishing trip was on a fjord in Norway with my granddad and my father in 1974 at the ripe old age of six, couldn’t tell you want was caught but I know a small fire was lit. Then I remember a couple of years later getting a six-foot black rod and reel with a few floats and fish the river at Flatford mill catching roach. I had a few school friends that fished so probably for Christmas or birthday I got the Shakespeare blue box seat and a cantilever box to put my fishing tackle in. Like many youngsters being dropped off by our parents’ arm with your tackle box, net, keep net, a flask and sandwiches we went for a day’s fishing at various local ponds catch the smaller inhabitants.

I then drifted away from fishing as other outside interests took over and a marriage, nothing stopped me going just I did not. It was during a five a side football match I broke my wrist and a gentleman at work invited me to carp fish with him at a local lake, so I said I had some fishing gear which basically all went in the bin, being from the early 80’s was not at all useable. He let me the equipment I needed, and I caught my first carp, being photographed with a plastic bag over the plaster on my wrist. Fire relit.

I now had to purchase rods, reels, alarms, and all the essentials. We live in a consumer world now where magazines, YouTube and even tv is awash with telling you that this is required to help you catch fish or make you comfortable whilst catching fish and we buy, buy, buy it all making carp fishing the most profitable if all the styles of our sport even to the point you need a van to transport it all.

Now we have all become comfortable with this try scaling down back to basics, its nigh on impossible because you have the just in case I need it syndrome, so we pack everything into our vehicles and off we trundle and when we get to the lake we put it mountain high on to trolley then push it around the lakes to our chosen swim where we sit for an hour trying to get energy to actually set up.

This is where being carpy is madness, you look to your left and seen a person next to you with a seat box his rods out and you scoff at the presentation thinking he doesn’t know what he’s doing. The thought is who is the idiot as the fish do not care.