Monday 29 July 2013

Varied Wildlife and Even a Few Fish

A couple of days ago a friend, Dave, asked me to go fish a small pond with him.  A pond that, as far as he knew, had never been fished before.  The pond was in a walled estate, in which he works, and fishing in the pond had always been banned, even to estate workers.  Whether the local kids had ever fished it on the quiet I do not know, but, as it was very clean, totally litter free, it was a possibility. Free fishing areas, legal or not, tend to accumulate signs when anglers have been there.   It seems Dave had done something to greatly please the Lord of the Manor, and a day's fishing, with a friend, was to be his reward.   I jumped at the chance to join him of course. Unfished water!  Mystery!

On any lightly fished water there is usually little reason to do anything complex, and so I chose to float fish with bread and maggots.  Size 14 hook to start.   I have been using Kamasan X Strong B982's for such fishing, and as Kamasan say, these are a stronger version of the B980 specimen, which are themselves "made of carbon wire, heavily forged to strengthen the bend".  The B982 is described as being identical, but made from an even stronger wire gauge.  In sizes up to 10, I have had great confidence in these hooks, and as I made my first cast, I knew that they had never before failed me.  The pond was not particularly pretty, and was set in a coniferous forest, but did look quite fishy, a fact confirmed by the sight of rudd rising, some of which were already being caught by Dave.  Nothing moved for 30 minutes near my own float, but then it slanted away across the surface to the right, and as I picked the rod up I knew it was no rudd.  After a spirited minute or so, during which the fish seemed to reach the odd clump of light weed, the float suddenly came flying back at me.   I had lost the fish, which I was certain had been a very good tench. I initially thought that the line had snagged and broken, but I soon saw that I still had the hook.  The B982 had straightened and was now a 90 degree bend rather than
The Mystery of the Bent Hook.
180, which surprised me, but a greater mystery was that it had also been twisted.   The shank now had a 45 degree twist in it.  I can readily understand how a hook can be rendered straight by a fish, but I cannot imagine how it might also twist the shank.  Never seen this before with any hook type.   I will be doing a few more tests on this hook, to see if it should have bent on a 6 pound line, under probably no more than 3 pounds of tension.  But I have no idea at all why or how it also became twisted.   But the pond had yet another trick to play on me though.

To my right I noticed some trails of tiny bubbles, interspersed with some large clumps of similarly small bubbles. These were not "mythical" bubbles, but had to be caused by fish, and I hoped, by tench. I moved
Tench Bubbles, a Float and a Damsel Fly.
my gear a few yards along the bank.  The bubbles continued to come up in patches all around my float, whilst damsel flies used the float as a staging post. It took me a while to hook the first fish, but they were indeed tench. But not the tench I had hoped for.   I had been expecting fish of a similar calibre to that which I had

Tiny Tench
lost earlier.  Poor deluded soul that I was.  The first tench to take the bait was a fish of about two pounds, which shed the hook. Love-30.   But the match then moved my way and over a couple of hours a dozen tench took the bait and were landed.  They were all rather dark fish, with the eye being more brown than red.  The largest of them was probably only about 12 ounces. The smallest, maybe eight inches long.  I had hit on a large shoal of mini tench, all  bubbling profusely.  Game set and match, but did I win, or was it the pond which beat me?

A Poor Photo I Took of the Red Squirrel
I then had a very rare visitor in the trees nearby, an animal I have not seen for about 40 years, when one ran across the road, as I was going fishing one early morning near Windermere.  A few years before that they used to be common, even in my own town.  It was a red squirrel!   And I had my camera with me.  There was a red squirrel in the fir trees just a few yards away from me. Dave told me that there was a squirrel reserve a few miles away, and that sometimes they strayed away from the daily supply of food in the reserve's squirrel feeders.  A dangerous thing for them to do, I would guess, for when they stray, they are likely to come into contact with the invading grey squirrels, which carry squirrel pox, to which greys are immune.  Not so our red squirrels, who  usually find the pox to be fatal.  It worries me that stray reds might carry the pox back into the reserve, and wipe out all the residents. I assume that greys near the reserve are tightly controlled down to as near zero as possible.  The red squirrel seemed at lot less precocious than the greys, and
Greys Are Far Easier to Photograph Successfully.
although it was around for a few minutes, it only afforded me the odd glimpse, and a couple of snatched photographs.  

I moved back to my original spot, and cast even nearer to the lilies, but as with Dave, all that then came to my bait were small rudd, in ever increasing numbers.  The brighter and hotter the sun became, the more the rudd congregated around my bait, and the more annoying they became. The odd small perch broke the monotony, but the day itself had been very pleasing.

A Dozing Badger.
To make the day complete, as I was closing the gate on the track leading to the water, it was not quite fully dark, but getting there. Two young badgers appeared and were gambolling and chasing each other in the beam from the car's headlights. 
  They enjoyed themselves so for over a minute before eventually disappearing into the vegetation. I think I had also seen one briefly the same morning, well before the sun came up, but was not certain of the I.D..  These two youngsters did not present a good photo opportunity, but I have added a photo I took last year of a badger I caught napping by the roadside.   Only one photo, as the camera click woke and scared it before I could re-focus for a second shot.  I have had a few interesting moments with badgers.  When I had been married just a week, I took the wife through the Macclesfield forest, and there, in broad daylight, sun streaming down ,was a badger.   The only one I had ever seen in daylight at the time.  Twenty five years into my sentence now, and that remains the only badger she has seen.  I will save another tale of a rather angry badger for another time.  


  1. I reckon it was foul hooked somewhere in the rear parts and then you flipped it over on itself. Can't think of any scenario when mouth hooked where such a thing could ever occur...

    1. That is one possibility I had not considered... and possible, although usually when a fish is foulhooked you KNOW that it is foulhooked well before seeing the evidence, because a foulhooked fish simply does not respond normally to rod pressure. It feels quite different. You have probably experienced the same effect. This fish seemed to respond quite normally to whatever I did with the rod. I think I will leave the jury out awhile.

    2. Yep, you do know when they're fouled! Once had a four pound rainbow trout hooked in the tail. Thought it was a double!

      Still can't see how that twist could have occurred. I've never seen that in my life. It would seem to require setting in bone up to the bend and then heavy side strain.