Sunday 28 June 2015

Does Size Always Matter?

Spring crashes on, its signposts are everywhere.  The roads I drive on are now littered with fox cubs in the early mornings,  although as I get nearer to the venues I gradually see less foxes, and far more white flashes from the scuts of rabbits clearing the road in front of me.  I wonder whether the words scut, as in a rabbit's tail, and scuttle, to run away and escape, are related  Scuttling perfectly describes the actions of the rabbits as they see and run from my headlights. Neither the rabbits, nor the foxes have featured in the roadkill I have passed.  Hedgehogs also seem to have escaped death,  but badgers seem to be very poor at avoiding cars this year, and several have lain dead by the roadside this past month.   It is supposed to be hedgehogs that freeze, confident that their spines will prevent any harm coming to the animal itself, shortly before their being flattened.  Maybe they are getting very scarce, although I still see them in the back garden at times.

I was wrong about the swans.   I never expected that they  would ever lose any cygnets.  The cob, the male swan, is always so very aggressive, and has that "I am the boss on this lake" look about him.  But the family is nevertheless two cygnets short this week.   I doubt that they just died,  all of them looking perfectly healthy last week.  And I don't think they got lost.  The lake is not so big that the swans can't circumnavigate it all several times daily.   So a predator must have claimed two victims.   Poor tactics by the male swan, who, rather than looking after the kids, has spent most of his time chasing geese around the water.   Oh, and annoying the angler in the next swim by swimming through both his lines, as he lay dreaming away in his bivvy.  I always shoo the swans away from my own lines, and am usually successful, although I do get some pretty  vicious hisses from the male as I do so. Occasionally I might have to wave the landing net at them.  It is all for their own good, as I would not want their legs tangled up in my lines any more than they would want my lines wrapped around their legs.   

No signs of the grebes having hatched any young yet.  One spent several hours diving in exactly the same spot, an area of two or three square yards,  just off to my right.   A lot of effort and I only saw him catch one small fish during that time.  The water is fairly deep, and I wonder whether, like the fish, grebes lay their eggs late on such waters, waters that are slow to warm up.   In contrast, in the shallow local park lake, the young grebes are already several weeks old.  It would maybe be to the bird's advantage to lay eggs at a time that is related to the hatching of the year's fish fry. In much the same way that blue tits seem to know when the caterpillars will be most plentiful in the oak trees.

 Other visitors to my swim included this woodmouse, totally oblivious to my presence, and this cheeky, chirpy little chap.

If the alliteration does not help you with the bird's ID: tough!

Most of my days' tenching continue to provide fish at the rate of one bite a day, and I cannot yet seem to find a consistent way to improve this.  Some good fish, some less so, but the recent highlights up until a few days ago,were another at 7, and a fish of 8-11.   Both well worth the wait.   A few males showed up as well, each being a little under 5 pounds but great fighters, as are most male tench.   I seem to catch fish of two very different looks.  One is pale green, almost Granny Smith's apples in colouration, sometimes with quite an orange belly.  The others are dark, almost metallic green, with a belly that is best described as greyish.   I have no statistical data to actually back this up ( so far) but I feel that the darker fish are smaller, and that they fight far harder.  I will leave that as a theory: work in progress, for the moment, and I will see whether future fish help to support the theory.

Having had a number of such zero/one fish sessions, I chose to spend a morning on a farm pond, A change is as good as a rest, and fishing lift method with bread, catching a mixed bag of tench, crucians, roach and one bream, is a very pleasant change indeed.   None of these fish topped half a pound, but there were plenty of them to play on the light rod and centrepin reel.  The pond does hold carp as well, up to at least ten pounds, so there was always the chance of some greater drama.   

During this session I somehow developed a lip ulcer, quite a bad one, very annoying. So driving home I stopped by Tesco's medicine counter, and looked for some suitable cream.  Bonjela Cool was what I chose.  Seen it on the TV, must be good.  Back home I applied it liberally. Oh My God!    Cool?   How can they call it cool?  I almost screamed in agony at the powerful sting that went right through my lip, feeling as if had every intention of severing my tongue!   It was murder, Continuously hurt for a good thirty minutes. The TV adverts do nothing to warn of the near death experiences caused by application of this stuff.  The minty taste, (evidently that was the cool bit),  was just discernible, but the major impact was like having a baseball bat crash into the face.  So painful.   I had intended to buy Tesco's own brand version.  It would have been far cheaper...had it existed.   Tesco knows about this stuff I am sure, and do not want the blame, when their clients experience the excruciating effects of using this cream.  Not daft Tesco: now they can finger the Bonjela company every time.  The tube has lain on the table ever since, and only once more have I dared to try again.  I should not have expected a different result, and did not get a different result, It still felt much like a self inflicted decapitation must feel, except that the pain persists far longer.   A week later, and the ulcer is disappearing all by itself. The tube remains nearly full. How full?    About £2-95 of the £3-00 I paid for it.

One final long tench session produced two fish.  The first was a very dark female, no spawn at all visible.  At 5-15 it was not a huge fish for the water, but it fought as though it were being piloted by
A Gorgeous 5-15 Female.
the very devil himself.  Absolutely wonderful account of itself, and such a beautiful fish too.  Very metallic green.   I would have been happy with just the one fish, but decided to stay on through the night.   The lake remained as a mirror the whole time and very few fish, save the odd roach, moved. Sometimes I would swear there were no fish diluting the water in the lake.  I had one rod cast over a tight patch of bait, and another was equipped with a size 6 hook, three maggots and a lump of breadflake adorned it, and it was cast as far as I could into a weedy area. Maybe 50 yards, not much more, as I am no distance casting champion.  The night remained peaceful, with just the bats for company.  The fish had deserted me.  But at exactly 5 o'clock, certainly within 30 minutes of 5am, the distance rod had a bite.   I didn't see the dough bobbin rise up to the carbon fibre, it was far too quick, the bait runner was also too surprised to play any part in the incident, but the reel suddenly started to revolve rapidly backwards. I do not fish bolt rigs, but this fish was sure to have hooked itself.  I struck though, and feeling a heavy weight, thought "a carp".  The fish moved left, heavy and slow, and I was able to reel in the other line out of the way.   After I did so, the fish went quite solid, and stationary,  and I became convinced it
A Spawny 10-5 Tinca. Not so gorgeous.
was off, and that I was into some heavy weed.   Apart from one moment when I thought that a bream might have taken the bread, there was nothing more to be felt on the line, no movement and I slowly pumped in what appeared to be merely a massive ball of weed.  As it neared the net I saw some smooth green, the flank of a tench?     I quickly removed most of the weed, and the fish, which had been completely encased by weed,  moved out powerfully and bored deep several times close in. I have experienced this before: a fish with its head buried in weed will often lie completely still and not fight.  It was netted soon after, and was indeed a tench.  The hook fell out in the landing net, and I thought that maybe I should have netted the weed ball, rather than removing the weed from the fish, thus taking the risk of allowing it to have another swim round.  After a few quick photos I weighed it, and then weighed it again, and again:   ten pounds five ounces!   A new personal best, and my first double figure tench.  

But it had only gained that weight by virtue of at least three quarters of a pound of spawn, maybe even a bit more.  And so my excitement level was not perhaps what it should have been.  Am I my own worst enemy? Wanting all my fish to look perfect and pretty?  Dampening the experience for myself? The 5-15 of the evening before was just as exciting a fish to catch. So size is not everything for me. For many other anglers though, it is.   And I can understand that, although if they were being honest there is not really much more skill involved in the capture, as the weight of a fish gets larger.   If I were being cruel, and having another rant at them, I might suggest that they were fishing in grab-a-granny mode.   Only the weight (effectively age?) matters to them.  Me: I like them pretty.

There is a large barbel in the local stream. It weighs anywhere between 12 and 14 pounds, varying somewhat over the weeks and months, and has been around that weight for several years.   This fish has been named "The Big Girl", by those anglers who MUST name fish, and appears it to be something of a neighbourhood bike.  Everyone and his dog has caught it, some anglers several times.  It probably got to be the biggest in the river by feeding freely, and it seems to get caught at least a dozen times each year, sometimes on a weekly or even daily basis.   People fish for this fish, targetting it specifically.  I avoid the swims in which it lives, quite intentionally.  I don't want to catch it.   A representative from the EA thinks it must be 25 years old, and I assume he therefore thinks it was one of the initially stocked fish.  A great great grab-a-granny?  25 years is a ripe old age for any fish, and I am a little surprised it has not lost much weight from its maximum.  Or rather at 25 years, shocked it didn't die years ago. Do fish suffer from dementure I wonder? Is this a fish that cannot remember that it has just had its breakfast, and hence gets caught again and again?  ;-)    Apologies to Bill, Paul, Jerry, Steve etc. etc.....................etc.

I think I might now go and hide for a while. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you all the way there JZ. 'Can't argue with that little lot!