Monday 2 June 2014

Drowning Maggots Whilst the Clouds Remain Gathered.

The weather has remained typical tench, and it has been difficult for me.  Trying not to fish and to give the wife some of my time at the beginning of June!  I held out longer than expected, far longer.  In the good old days I would have been back on the bank, in the exact same spot, casting to that same square yard in an attempt to better the excellent tench caught on the last trip.   Not so this time. I held out for two whole days before finding myself back on the banks of the same water.   And not anywhere near the same swim. The water has so much obvious potential, and I feel any spot on its extensive banks could produce a fish in the same league as my recent PB tench, or perhaps even bigger.   And if it didn't: no matter. Nature has taken over the lake full well, and only its depth now reveals that the water is entirely man-made. Trees, shrubs, reedmace and rushes all disguise the old contours.   The birds and other wildlife have been equally taken in, and are present in some abundance. It is a pleasure just to be asleep near this water.

I arrived just as night started to lose its grip on the scene, quickly set up the rods and fed the swim with a small amount of mixed feed. Then waited. A couple of fish soon moved over the bait, as seems usual with this water.  Also as usual, there were no more rises and no immediate bites to follow the rolling fish.  It would be seven hours later that the first fish would take the bait, and a bright green tench of a little under five pounds tested the rod.  Blank saved, I relaxed, and having helped me out, the fish also relaxed.  They might as well have disappeared entirely from the lake.  It was so quiet that I even struck up a conversation with a carp angler, who had been glued to the next swim for the last three days or so.  Decent chap, for a carp centred angler,  one able to hold an interesting conversation without littering each sentence with the "f" word.  It was appreciated.  He, soon after, was also to land a tench, "one of those green things", and so started a tench v carp banter session.  I congratulated him on the fish, and said he must be pleased, for it gave him another chance to play with his toy boat.    Quite the reverse of course, for the whole point of anyone inventing the boilie, is that it enables a carp angler to fish, and to blank, for a week at a time without ever having the need to reel in.  The lake, in keeping with many others, is usually littered with carp anglers, and on this water, in over a dozen trips, I had yet to see a carp landed. 

This carp angler was fishing at distance (don't they all?) and his baits were in the one area in which I have seen more than the odd carp surface.   On a couple of occasions I have seen quite a few "half inch" themselves out of the water, in the way that only carp do.   It was interesting though, to see the lake depth profile displayed by his on board echo sounder, as his bait boat made its way out towards the fish. His swim was shallower than mine, and very shallow, as little as three feet in some areas. I was fishing into about 14 feet.   I sometimes wonder whether the spots where the carp are seen to frolic and play, are actually the best areas in which to catch them?  The carp anglers seem to be more convinced than I am.  But who am I:  but a mere and insignificant tench angler.

Several pairs of the grebes now have young, some already  3/4 grown, and several times during the day I saw the parent birds perform their head shaking dance.   One pair danced quite close to me, and the dance went on for quite a long time.   I know that I should have grabbed the camera, but I was travelling light and did not have the long lens with me.   Which is a shame, for eventually they broke off their dance, both diving away and when they came back to the surface, each had a beakful of weed, and they went straight into the penguin dance.  Wonderful!   Those birds knew, knew before their dive, that they were going to go all Antarctic.  It was a planned dance.  Better planned than my choice of camera gear.

But this mallard came close enough for the standard lens to be able to take the usual  "awww!" shot of its
dozen newly hatched young.  By the end of the fishing session there were less of these young, four ducklings having disappeared. Probably down the throats of pike and herons.  A pair of little dabchicks swam past, only a little out of camera range.   They now have that chestnut coloured head, colour which is absent through the Winter months.

The swim depth was irrelevant through the night, neither of us having a nibble.  I had not originally intended to fish through the night, and was not really comfortably prepared. A folding stool was going to be my seat for the night until my carp angling friend loaned me his "guest chair".  Yes, it would seem that bivvies these days have accommodation for guests, and presumably spare bedrooms.  So my night, was completely undisturbed by
A Woodmouse. Ears and  a Long Tail.
fish, and was a little more comfortable than I had expected.   As dusk approached, a young woodmouse kept me company. It seemed tame enough to have been someone's pet, and largely seemed to ignore my presence, sitting just a foot or so away. The rain fell fairly consistently through both the evening and the night, but my brolly kept it, and the light wind, at bay.  Indeed it was the weather that prompted me to spend the night, in the erroneous expectation that it would be filled with fish.   Not to be, and by 0700 hours I had not has so much as a line bite.   In contrast to the evening, my morning pal was a little vole, a bank vole I think.  Less obvious ears and a shorter tail than the mouse. The vole repeatedly stole the odd bit of  
A Vole, the First I Have Ever Photographed.
groundbait that had been dropped as I baited up the evening before. 
There had been a few early morning splashy rises, fish the carp lads seem to think are tench.   I am not so sure and strongly suspect good roach might be involved.   There are few of them, in unpredictable spots, and short of casting directly at them when they rise, I cannot really see how to choose where to fish for them... if they are indeed good roach.  
At 0703  my right hand indicator slowly rose to the rod ring and I struck into a good fish, one that felt and fought identically to the big fish of a couple of days ago.   Another big tench was heading my way.   The fight continued to scream tench at me, I could feel it burrowing through the weed, the line coming at times in little jerks as the elodea stems broke off. It was a good tench right up until the moment I saw the fish. A mirror carp.  As a tench it had behaved itself impeccably, keeping to its own side of the swim. As a carp it decided to cross the other fishing line, and my 7 pound breaking strain was unable to prevent the attempt to exit stage left.   Luckily though, the lines did not become entangled, and soon the fish was in the net.

For the Carp Anglers Amongst my Readership
I weighed it at 15-6, and disturbed the sleeping carp angler in the nearby bivvy for a photo opportunity, but mainly to take the chance to add some more banter.  I wondered whether it would also have taken him three minutes to get out of his B&B ( bed and bivvy) if his own buzzers had gone off.  I complained to him about nuisance fish and having to recast my three maggots after landing the carp.   I said that mirror carp all look to have been built by amateurs from incomplete kits of parts, but that common carp, if painted green and photographed without the red-eye reduction set on the camera, would actually be quite pretty.   He admitted that I had taught him something, namely that carp could be caught in the margins, even on this water.   Margins!  I was fishing 35 yards out!   Almost as far as I can cast for God's sake!   Mumble, mumble margins!

As I write this I am listening to "Just a Minute" on Radio Four.   And I had to take a short break.  I love radio comedy, and occasionally they can, on these spontaneous shows, crease me up something terrible.  Today, the minute topic was "my favourite view" and one of the contestants, Giles Brandreth I think, said:
"As the great actress, Maureen Lipton once declared; "The worst thing about oral sex is the view.""  This caused quite a hubbub in the audience and also made me completely unable to type accurately.

Back on the lake, by ten in the morning, the light wind had abated, and the lake was nearly flat calm, with that almost oily look to the surface.   This enabled my to see two small patches of bubbles.  Small, but certainly caused by fish.  And a good  eight or ten yards closer than my hookbaits.  So one rod was recast, shorter, right on top of the bubbles.  Maybe even I  had been fishing too far out.  And maybe I had, for ten minutes later I was playing a tench. A tench I think may have been that bubbler.
Male 6-6, Post Spawning
 The fish was a spawned out male of 6-6. An excellent fish, and very big for a male, if I can say that without a snigger.  It had a small wound, spawning damage just in front of its pelvic fin, visible in the photograph.  After a small injection of bait into the new area, another tench, this time an excellent female of 6-14 was introduced to my landing net.

Another superbly shaped fish, with but a little spawn in it.
6-14 Female
I do wonder why the fish seem to be at vastly different stages in the breeding process.   The male had already spawned,  my biggest female was probably caught just moments before heading to the weedbeds, yet some females seem hardly to have started to develop the egg mass.  We have had a mild Winter, and I wonder whether some fish spent those months in deeper water, water which warmed up more slowly, and therefore held fish which first became active days if not weeks later than others.  Either way it means that I look like always having some tench to target, which are not bloated with spawn.  Some will be heavily gravid, but they seem not to come to any harm, surviving capture well, whereas bream, or male bream at least, do not look as if the close season should have been scrapped on stillwaters.

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