Monday 23 June 2014


After catching two superb roach in the last three or four trips, I chose to make hay whilst the iron was hot and went back.    Not good.   The four provisional swims I had mentally listed to choose from, were all full of carp anglers.    People who sit there for days labelling my roach as tench, whenever they rise and splash in front of them.    And this was Sunday evening.   You would think that they would have cleared off to watch some of the football.    Would you believe that none of them anticipated my arrival and left space for me?   One even sneaked in just five minutes before my arrival.  Have these carp anglers no shame?

But it gave me a chance to try another swim, one I have fancied but not fished before.  I blanked of course,
Great Tit and Two Young Pleaders.
spectacularly so, without any signs of fish rising, and nothing interfered with my bait, save for a cheeky robin and some young great tits.

The next trip was to be to one of my proven swims, but became an even greater failure.  I have now realized that blanking without a twitch is far more tolerable to blanking having had six bites.  I made mistakes.  Too many mistakes. The one bite on worm ( probably a tench) was struck too soon.   Years ago when I float fished lobworm for tench under a long piece of peacock quill, I let the float move at least five feet across the water before striking.  Tench have fair sized mouths but a large lively wriggling worm is difficult to engulf when one has no hands and ones' pectoral fins do not quite reach ones' lips. So I struck too soon and missed.    I also missed one bite on hair rigged paste of some kind...krill... I think.    No explanation for that miss. A third bite was missed whilst dealing with the aftermath of this next photograph. The resident pair of swans have 
Silly, Stupid, Semi Submerged Swan.
five cygnets this year, recently hatched.  The parents were shepherding them across my swim, and I was mentally thanking them for keeping far enough out, that they did not swim through and interfere with my lines.  I had recently, writing elsewhere, stated that swans do not feed their young. These swans decided to prove me wrong as one upended, and came back up with a strand of weed which it then gave to its young. Unfortunately weed was not all the swan came up with:  it came up with my line half hitched around its neck.  Stupid bird.  And of course the bait runner went mad, giving out line as the bird tried to disentangle itself...unsuccessfully. When I picked up the rod and clicked the baitrunner off, the line was still firmly in place like a hangman's noose, and every half second or so was jerkily giving way a little more.  I realized that the line was slowly moving as the swan moved away, rotating around its neck, and it was obvious that eventually the feeder and hook would gradually get nearer to the bird, causing a disaster, or even decapitating the swan .  The only thing I could think of doing was to strike hard, so as to break the line.  It broke at the bird's neck, and the swan seemed to be completely unharmed, which was a great relief.  I was still worried that the other part of the line, that with the feeder and hook, might be attached to the bird, but an hour or so later I reeled the end tackle in, having snagged it with another line. So the swan had a lucky escape, and my guilt dissolved.  But having broken the line I had to re-tackle, and whilst I did so, after four hours of inactivity, I had a bite on rod number two.  Missed it due to messing with rod number one at the time, tying on a fresh hook.
My worst errors were the other three bites, which came on 2 maggots topped with three casters.   These bites may well have been roach, possibly very big roach.  My mistake here was to try and fish such baits when I was far too tired to sit and hover over the rods.  The indicators were moving about 12 inches and then stopping. I should have been hitting these bites sooner, before the guts had been sucked out of the casters. Legering casters for stillwater roach is an artform, and I am fairly convinced that I was metaphorically asleep in Tracey Emin's unmade bed... if not actually asleep... which I also may well have been.  I was just too tired to fish in that way.   Maybe shorter sessions chasing these  roach might be better tactics?   Trouble is that after a long drive, I don't really want to fish for just three or four hours before facing the motorway again.

On the way back, I stopped to look at a club pond that was more or less en-route. I had heard that it held great crested newts, and hoped to be able to photograph one.    No chance.    But I did see quite a decent fish stir in the rushes that encircle this very small pond. It is no more than 40 yards by ten, at its maximum dimensions.   So I determined, next morning to have a go for the fish, and also to have another look for the newts.    4am start, because I actually managed to wake up...and get up when the alarm rang,   cast out a float with my light Avon rod, and 4 pound line, expecting that the fish would be a carp of four or five pounds.   I don't often target specific fish, but it seemed a nice challenge for the morning.   Three six inch rudd, brightly lit little fellows took the breadflake on the first three casts.  Then I saw a good sized fish cruise across the pond to my left, heading in towards the rushes.  I predicted (OK, OK I guessed) that, on reaching them it would turn left towards me, and so cast six feet nearer to me and about eighteen inches out from the bank.   After just a minute the float started to glide away, and I struck into a heavy fish.   A heavy sluggish fish, and I was at first quite confused.
Grass Carp
Grass Carp Head
  Too heavy to be a chub, roach, rudd or bream, and too slow to be a carp.   And I was surprised that, although it maintained its depth well, it seemed to have no wish, or ability, to take line.  The fight was all taking place no further than 4 or 5 yards from me.   I found it quite easy to turn the fish, several times.  Of course I had not expected that it would be a grass carp.   Two other grassies I caught last year fought very poorly too.  But this one was far bigger, and a personal best, out of the three members of the species I have now landed in total.    It weighed thirteen pounds seven, and was a very pleasing fish.  A handsome fish but it was never one that was going to go to a second round with Tyson. You might have thought that a fish that was shaped very much like a salmon, might fisght something like one. But no. The head, around the eyes and mouth area is fairly featureless,  leading me to gain the impression that it is a quite gormless creature.  Anyone else think that this is a fish that looks to have less than the usual quota of intelligence?

I was in a bit of a "job done" situation, so decided to return to the other pond I fished recently, to do some bit bashing.   It was still only 5am.  As I nearer the other pond I realized that, in my euphoria, I had completely forgotten about the newts.   Another time maybe.  Pond 2, after a slow start fished well for small fish, and  by eleven o'clock I was starting to get a little bored.  the score stood at about 20 small tench, 15 small crucians, the odd mini carp and F1, a couple of small roach,  rudd, and what I think was a tiny ide.   The largest fish was a two pound crucian/goldfish cross...or maybe it was simply a brown goldfish.   Not sure which.  I was nearing the last cast stage when I had a tangle around the spool.  The 4 pound line has done some serious work, gaining a few twists in the process, and as a result of the tangle, my float dropped quite short, nowhere
near the baited area and the mass of small fish in and around it. I was helped in untangling the line by a fish pulling at the rod tip. Tangle now gone, this fish was putting up a considerable scrap.  I was having trouble keeping it from a close in snaggy area in which I had lost another fair sized fish earlier in the day.  The fish was moving around the swim at speed, always seeming to stay around mid-water, but just would not reveal itself.   On the 4 pound line and Avon, this was quite exciting stuff.   Eventually, after quite a long time, the fish was mine.   I don't usually like carp much, especially mirrors, but this was a common carp that was quite lovely, even by tench standards.  Probably spot on ten pounds, with a great looking tail, and perfect scales.

And see. Blogger has done it once again, rotating my carp this time. 90 degrees anticlockwise.   Well I am sorry, but it is far easier for you to rotate your head, or turn the screen on its side than it is for me to fix this.  I have tried four times, but Blogger keeps beating me, and four attempts is enough. I give up!

Not having had enough of ponds yet, and needing a short session, I visited yet another small club pond.  I had seen the pictures on the club web site, taken in Winter, and it was nicely shrouded by trees, and with very clear obstruction free water.  I nearly decided NOT to fish it because the water itself looked fairly featureless.  What a mistake that would have been!   The pond is now, in high Summer, absolutely lovely, full of lilies, both common yellow and fancy whites.  It was also an "Oh My God" moment, as I realized that hooking anything of a size would present serious problems.
Pristine Mini Tench
Not a Silver Bream

The pond was like an estate lake, but made 15 or 20 times smaller, whilst retaining every last clump of lily.  There were hundreds if not thousands of white lily flowers, what my Chinese friends would call lotus flowers.  The place looks absolutely fabulous, and I cast my float into one of the gaps between the lily beds.  Not too long before something took the bread, and the first of a dozen or so tiny immaculate tench came to hand.  I had read, in the club handbook, that the pond contained silver bream, and to be honest their presence was the main reason I chose to fish the pond.  It was not long before the first of a few immaculate but tiny bream joined the tench.  A couple of small and also immaculate rudd and perch were to take red maggots later.  The bream were however, as far as I can tell, just little common bream, and I suspect that their bright shiny condition may have confused other anglers who have caught them in the past.  There MAY also be silver bream in the pond, but somehow I doubt it.  All the while I fished, the wildlife was up and about.  A fox slunk away just outside the pond fence soon after I arrived.  It is probably a fit and healthy fox, for there were many pheasants nearby.  I regularly heard their double croak, followed by that quick fluttering noise of wings that seems to follow each croak.  A small predatory bird was flitting about over and around the pond. I feel it was probably a sparrowhawk, but did not get a good enough look.   The not good enough look was disturbed by my rod suddenly trying to leap into the pond.   I had taken my eye off the float, and a good fish had grabbed the bait, and was diving deep into the lilies.  The light line broke before I could pick up the rod.    Not the first time bird watching has lost me a fish.   The odd carp was now moving, and so I lobbed out a piece of anchored crust, some six inches to the right of the densest lily bed. Having travelled light, the 4 pound line and light rod was all that was available to me, and it was with some trepidation that I chose to fish with floating bread.  After just a couple of minutes a carp showed interest, and following three unsuccessful attempts to slurp in the bread it succeeded and the hooked carp did exactly what I did not want it to do, by diving straight into the thickest of the lilies, just a few inches away. It went in deeper than just the peripheral floating leaves. The densely packed vertical leaves were disturbed too.  Luck was however greatly on my side, and I managed to persuade the fish back out into open water, and after a few more hair raising moments a six pound mirror was netted.   At this point I decided that I could not trust to get such luck again, and packed up. No real point in risking the certain loss of other fish.  Another trip to the same pond would need to be backed up by heavier gear.
But for the moment I feel the need to go greet a grayling and meet a minnow or two....Bye.

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