Thursday 20 February 2014

Tinca, Tinca, Tinca, Scotland and Wales.

I thought that we had totally escaped the effects of the bad weather up here in the North, and that I could nip off fishing without any problems left behind by mother nature.   Not quite.   After the North West's hurricane force winds last weekend I found my usual route to the fishing grounds blocked by some very large trees that had been snapped off at head height by the wind.   As I searched out an alternative route, my mobile rang.   My wife; asking that I return home immediately because the burglar alarm was going off and we had lost all downstairs lighting.   So I returned to also find water dripping from the kitchen ceiling under the bay window.  In 25 years I have never had a lighting fuse blow before, and so its seems highly likely that, when the installers fitted the PVC window, and as requested, removed the strip light that was up inside the old window, they had not completely removed the associated wiring, nor sealed the joint properly.   So I have had to fix the leak over the window, and reset the alarm, which had triggered when Nina removed the wrong fuse holder whilst trying to fix the problem.  This was in retrospect useful, in that it showed that the internal battery had died at some time in the past and was thus not able to maintain power during the power outage.   The lights stayed on for about 3 hours minutes after replacing the fuse and then blew again.  Repeatedly, and sometimes instantaneously.

So yesterday, " in order to allow the circuits time to dry out",  I went fishing. Leaving the ground floor completely in the dark, I headed out to another trip after those tench.  The day was almost balmy, I recorded 11 degrees through most of the day, and apart from an hour or so of light drizzle, it remained fine and very still.  Water temperature was still at 5 degrees and so I was fairly confident I would catch.   I was legering whilst watching the line meniscus as it entered the water, with a back up bite alarm made of a bit of old reed, lying across the line near to the reel.   By mid-day the line had not even twitched, but then a slight ripple from the line suggested that something was nearby.  It was probably a minute, teensy line bite, but it readied me for action, and sure enough, ten minutes later after the reed suddenly flipped into the air, I was fighting a male tench of 4-14.   This exact scenario happened twice more each fish separated by about 90 minutes.    So alike were the scenarios, that each fish pulled the scales down to exactly the same weight.  For old times sake, I weigh any tench that I think might scrape 5 pounds.  The first two fish were of the pale green colour
A Beautifully Fit Winter Male
that the venue usually produces, but the third was a far darker and much prettier fish altogether.  Swims on the lake were in short supply, it was half term and the kids were out in force.  So, sometime after lunch another angler arrived and asked if he could fish about 15 yards away from me, in one of few remaining pegs.  No problem.  He travelled fairly light, and had one of the old wicker type fishing baskets.  Good enough to carry his tackle, but not good enough to sit on for 4 or 5 hours: he had also brought a flashy folding seat.  He opened up the basket and the first thing he brought out was a large mallet. I hate mallets.  They are wielded by the bivvy brigade with no thought to scaring the fish of other nearby anglers.  It does not matter to them, as they will probably have a couple of days in which the fish might recover from their fright.  So I tried to forestall his use of the mallet by saying telling him that I hated such fish scaring devices.  
He asked "Do you really think that they scare fish?"
"Yes."  I said  " I have occasionally been watching fish, and seen them spooked by someone using a mallet over two hundred yards away."    Sound does travel far better through water than it does through air.
He replied that he had seen someone bivvy up, wearing a recently Dazzed or Persilled white T-shirt and then caught a carp in the margins just 15 minutes later.
I said that after it taking 5 hours getting the first fish feeding in my swim I would hate them to be scared off now.  There was nothing unpleasant about the conversation and he assembled his gear, having returned the mallet into the wickerwork, which was quite gentlemanly of him.   Two leger rods, swimfeeders, and two very high tech buzzers were soon in place.   These were the sort of buzzers with which, by flicking one of the many switches, he could have probably monitored and displayed much of the data being sent back by the Mars rover mission.   And he had been unable to mallet their supporting bank stick into the ground.    As he cast in the second rod, I hooked and landed the second of my fish. I wonder if I would have caught it had he ignored my plea?  Ten minutes later he was upping and moving 50 yards further down the bank.   Wanted to give me some room apparently.   I had lots of room, and would have been happy to have had him fish there.  A few moments later I heard the mallet going hammer and tongs at the bank sticks.    He was just not comfortable being forced outside his usual routine.  If the banks sticks were not thoroughly well seated into the ground he was certainly not going to catch fish.  Maybe he was terrified that his buzzers would fall over and electrocute anything swimming in the lake within mallet hearing range.    Sadly his move  along the bank brought him no fish during his session, and I would like to think his mallet had scared them all off.  

Should mallets be banned?   Any views out there?    To compensate, it might be possible to fit out all  the man-made comfortable pegs with built in rings to enable the anglers to tie down their bivvies?  I don't like these pretty pebble dashed pegs myself.  I would rather poke my rod out between the rush and reed beds, sitting, if need be, with my backside an inch or so above the water, hoping that the legs of my seat sink into the mud no further.  Each to his own I guess, but why do so few modern anglers ignore the advice about noise from as far back as "Still Water Angling" and still feel they should be allowed to make as much of it as they wish?

Spring was in the air, and the male mallards were already chasing the females, and the robins visited in pairs.  Dunnocks were displaying to any available females.  The lake's kingfisher and grebe were still in residence.  All in all, quite a pleasant trip. Yet it was a trip that was missing something.  It was my fifth trip this year chasing those tench.  Every one of those trips has produced tench to my rod, 12 in total.  And although catching any tench in Winter is wonderful, I did feel that today's trip was a little predictable.  I expected to catch tench, and had I guessed, I would have guessed at my landing three fish. Spot on!  I need more than that from my fishing, or perhaps less than that. I don't want to be able to make such predictions and be right.  Five trips is too much of the same old thing.  I don't know if I needed a blank, or just something very, very different.  Conversely, the other angle that I also have to look at this from is:    eat your chips before they go cold.  And today I did.

I have no idea how some anglers are able to do the same thing every single weekend.  Mainly it is carp anglers, but barbel anglers are getting close too.  They go out, set up the bivouacs and fish right through the weekend.  Some of them don't catch very often, they are on hard waters, others catch most trips.  But in either case it all seems too much same old, same old.   There seems to be little imagination involved.  Shut up in, or under the bivvy all weekend, or perhaps longer, using methods tried and tested, prescribed by angling press, TV and DVD's with a little extra input from mates and forums.  The objective, the only objective that matters, seems to be to catch  fish. Little else is of any concern at all.  Catch the fish no matter how long it takes, no matter if it is exactly the same modus operandi that was involved last week, and indeed during every week of the last year or few.  Further evidence of this attitude was evident after the anglers on the far bank left.   I could see the  litter they left from 150 yards away.  I can moan all I wish about litter here, or in fishing forums, but the fact of the matter is that, until anglers see fishing as being much more than just catching fish, until they learn, by themselves, to appreciate the outdoors for what it is worth, then no amount of cajoling will ever persuade them to take their rubbish home.  And I fear that many will never have the  vision to see any  further than the fish in their net.

But to return to the matter in hand:  one of the reasons I gave up fishing all those years ago is that it had all become too predictable.   I was simply having too much success, and finding that, even for big fish, before the advent of fancy baits rigs, commercials etc, grabbed hold of all our fish and magnified their sizes, it was all too easy for me, the challenge that I needed at the time was no more.   So nowadays my fishing has to be very varied, with some of those blanks, or I fear I might once again think about giving up.  Of course, to find any other activity with as much daily variation as fishing is going to be damn near impossible, so giving up is probably not really an option.  I need a little bit of planning ahead though, to set up one or two objectives to mix in with the more usual stuff this year.   So, two or three things in mind at the moment.  I have already  a trip abroad planned for next month...more to come on that after the event,  then, come the close season I might have to dig out the fly rod, and actually catch a fish or two with it this time.   The third thing is a complete, all the balls in the air sea change.  Grey mullet are starting to call me.  So I shall be spending some time in Wales, once the shoals move in from wherever they go in Winter.   Never seen a mullet, so that promises to be fun.  Oh yes...and I want to photograph a mole.

Whilst talking about Wales, it is looking slightly more likely that Scotland may go independent.  I don't think Cameron is well liked above the border and it may well be that the Scottish will vote so as to specifically spite him, especially now that he is calling for UK continued unity. It may well benefit Cameron and the Tories to lose Scotland of course, and now that the oil is running out, might he not push too hard to keep us together?  I wonder what he really thinks? 
It would be nice to see a more logical approach to student fees. At the moment students from Europe must be offered courses fee free in Scotland, but English students in Scotland have to pay, because the EU only dictate that there is equal opportunity between member states....not within member states...which is why Scotland is allowed to charge English students. I wonder what will happen to the State Pensions Provision in Scotland if independence kicks in?    Pensioners have been paying in for years,  the government spending the money immediately, and funding current pensions from existing workers' taxes, but after independence what remains of the UK population would be paying pensions to a foreign the currency of thistles or whatever that new currency would become. So, maybe Scottish Pensions would have to be paid from Scottish taxes?  All looks to be an interesting time in September.  

In my spare time I run the local juggling and unicycling club, and at one juggling event I met a wild Scottish juggler:  A BIG guy. Complete with crazy red hair and a beard like Hamish in Braveheart.   He was juggling with three hatchets whilst wearing a kilt.  A very scary sight indeed, far too scary to check whether his backside was painted blue. If there are many more like him up there, we will have to rebuild Hadrian's wall after independence, make it higher  and fit it with gun turrets.

 But what about the Welsh.   Where do they fit in?  One answer is that they don't. For some time I have wondered why Wales, if it really is a fully functioning and patriotic part of the UK, does not have its flag incorporated into the Union Jack, or Union Flag as some prefer to call it.   I really like the Welsh flag, it is one of the best in the world, and it is something of a shock to find that the Welsh have not insisted that it be incorporated within the design, so that the UK flag would look like this:

There is one other major advantage. No-one could possibly fly it upside down by accident. So come on Taffy, Dafydd, Rhys, Megan and others.  Fight for your flag!  I have already done the design work for you.  As an afterthought, having  the English flag,  St. George's Cross on the flag as well might lead to conflict, St George being the slayer of dragons, allegedly.

Stop press: the drying out time fishing trip appears to have worked, and we have let there be light in the house for about the last nine hours.

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