Tuesday 17 June 2014

Puddling About...and Another Good Roach

I didn't immediately rush back for another go at the tench and roach as caught in recent trips.  Nope: a few short trips to local and club ponds were needed, to balance the excitement of the bigger trips.   Several pond sessions were involved, and were a nice low key alternative to the more serious business of bigger fish.

The first pond, two trips.  Trip one, using a light Avon rod, 4 pound line and a float.   There was a fair bit of needle bubbling going on around my baited area, and tradition indicates that these are always caused by tench.   Factually I doubt the truth of that, but with even the possibility of tench in the swim, the nerves sharpen and the hand hovers above the rod butt.   When the bite came, the only bite, it was no tench,. but a lively little common carp of about four pounds. Always nice to catch carp using bread flake and a float.  I had started early in the morning, about 4 am,   just a short while before the two illegal night anglers let their fire burn out, ensured that they had dropped all the litter they had, and cleared off at 05.30, well before the bailiff was due to make his rounds. I informed the bailiff of their presence later, but was not, after my recent foolish involvement with other wrongdoers, going to tackle them by myself this time.   By 8am the clouds were gathering, and looking a little threatening, and at 9 the first drops started to fall.   I was fishing very light, with no brolly, so managed to pack up within about three minutes, and was in the car as the rain began to fall with serious intent.   I drove the mile or so home, and then had to sit in the car for about 20 minutes, as the rain hammered onto the car roof.  I returned the next day, just as the bats were beginning to stop flying, and this time the short trip was rewarded with a short tench, a little chunky fish of rather less than two pounds.  
A number of carp cruised the surface, in this very muddy watered pond of maybe 90 yards square.   When cruising, they never seem to get nearer to the bank than about 15 or 20 yards.   They can have no idea where they are based on bottom features, and so MUST be using the trees as their SatNav device, ensuring they stay fairly well clear of any danger at the pond's edges.  One carp looked to be over twenty pounds, and another was a pale coloured yellow koi.  As I sat there, from a tree directly above my head, a heron came swooping down, and dangling its feet in the water grabbed a small roach in its bill, from the surface. It left the characteristic grey stain on the water.  Herons plumage is coated with a grey dust that acts as a defence against its being stickied up by fish or eel slime.  Quite a sniper like attack, none of this patient and stealthy stalking of its prey.  ( I always wondered why that word was not spelled as "storking", the herons and stork families being so good at it) .  On this same pond a couple of years ago, I saw a heron land in the water, and paddle its way back to the shore, using legs that were very ill designed for the purpose.  Very odd to see one sitting on the surface swimming.  On another nearby water a heron used to sit atop a small ornamental weeping willow, and then dive in, head first, to attack any small surface fish, even the fish on the end of your line.   It was a bit of a pest, but very inventive in its attack methods.

On Sunday, with the football world cup getting ever closer, I decided at about 4pm that I just had to get away from it all.   My wife would be insisting on watching it, and thus monopolizing the TV.  So I headed out to a smallish club pond that was rumoured to hold a few wild carp. A new water for me.   I settled down in a corner, and the very muddy water suggested a big head of fish might be present.   So on went the breadflake again, being cast out into 5 or 6 feet of water.   I suppose three seconds had quite fully elapsed before I found myself playing a chub of about a pound and a half.   The next hour was quiet, the odd missed bite on halibut based paste, but my bread was now being ignored.    Then the switch was suddenly thrown, and from
Crucian/fancy Goldfish Hybrid.  An Ugly Fish IMHO.

about 7pm, every cast produced a bite.  All on bread.  And there was a hell of a variation in species.   4 carp, a couple of mirrors, but with the biggest being a common of about 4 pounds.   A few small roach, a couple of rudd, one small crucian, a dozen or so tench to about a pound and a half, one more chub.   It was serious every egg a bird territory.   Added to the pure species were four F1 carp/crucian hybrids to about 3 or 4 pounds, one fantail crucian/goldfish hybrid, and another hybrid, whose origins I can only guess at.   It fought very hard, weighed a little under a pound or so, was flattened
Weird Hybrid:  Bream/Your Guess as Good as Mine
heavily side to side, with a very bream like anal fin, yet was quite golden in colour.  The head still carried the remains of spawning tubercles.  The photo does not really do the fish's colour full justice.  Bream/rudd hybrid would be my best guess, but would not really explain, to my total satisfaction, the bright golden colour.  Small bream in my experience are silver, and so it seems inconsistent that their hybrids should suddenly shine out in a blaze of colour. No wild carp came to the net.
I also hooked and played a 5th carp, a mirror, of about ten pounds, to a standstill, but it became snagged right at my feet at the base of a fishing platform.  I tried to free it with the landing net, and also tried to scoop it up, but all I succeeded in doing was to free the carp, the light line breaking about an inch away from the hook.  After this minor disaster, and because a few carp had been taking floating crust, late in the evening I moved the shot up very near to the float and lobbed out a bit of floating bread.   It was snaffled, almost as soon as it hit the water, by a fish that proved to be the second chub.   It has been many years since I last caught a stillwater chub. They don't look any different to those in the rivers.  Then it was time for that last cast.
You must remember the old Rolling Stones hit:

"This will be my last cast,
This will be my last cast,
Maybe the last cast
I don't know..."  

Sing along if you want, just don't expect me to join in.  Regular readers may know why.

To try and avoid chub, I placed a very large cube of bread onto the ridiculously small size 14 hook and made that last cast.   I did not have long to wait before my inch and a half cube of crust was taken....by a twelve ounce rudd!  How on earth it took so much so quickly I have no idea.   But I did make that my last cast.  My final last cast. Quite a change, I am very unused to such frenzied activity, but on that light Avon, and four pound line  it was a pleasant change and very good fun.


But not so pleasant as to keep me away from big waters, which is a shame as my next overnight trip was to be a total blank. Not so much as a twitch disturbed the session.  But the dawn was quite lovely. 

Parent and Young Grebe in Silhouette
As the light intensified, the grebes ventured out, parents with their young in tow, now largely grown, and well able to dive themselves, if not to actually catch their own fish yet.

 So the day was spent bird watching, and after a long time trying, I finally managed a poor shot of one of a family of young blackcaps. They were constantly moving in and out of some nearby willows, never keeping still long enough for me to be able to point the camera at them.  But finally: peering out of the foliage at me:
A Young Blackcap

Having blanked miserably on one water, I had little choice, my next trip had to be back to attack the roach, if there were any more to be attacked. I set up my rods so as to be intermediate, rigged such that they had a chance with either roach or tench.  A little too heavy for the roach maybe, and a little too light should a tench decide to bury itself in the weed. Baits were also chosen so as to appeal to both species. And guess what?   I ended up with one tench and one roach. Who would have expected the plan to come together so well as that?

/rant on...  Blogger has decided to rotate my tench through 90 degrees.  Every so often it decides randomly to do this to one of my photographs, and I struggle for about ten minutes messing with the photo and finally sort it. Today, Blogger, I am not going to bother.  The damn photo can stay rotated, so there!  But I wish I knew why it happens. 
/rant off.

The tench was to go 6-2 and gave a good old fight, despite it having quite obviously spawned very  recently.  

The roach was another great fish, 2 pounds 2 ounces, and probably the most gloriously coloured roach I have ever seen.  Like the previous big roach, until it finally laid on its side near the landing net, it seemed to be far bigger that it actually was, and for more than a moment or two, its colour had me thinking that I had hooked a big rudd. It therefore gets a big photo in the blog.  What a stunningly coloured fish this was.  But catching it gives me great hope that others are present, that they CAN be caught, and that they might well be present in somewhat larger sizes than the two landed so far.  The year promises to be very interesting.

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