Saturday, August 01, 2009

Better than a blank - just!

The rivers would be carrying extra water, the barbel would be feeding, but I quite fancied sitting behind three matched rods on a stillwater. So the sunny morning was spent in deliberation. Time was when I'd have done what I thought I ought to, but eventually I chose to do what I wanted to do. Three rods were put in the quiver along with the plumbing rod. It was a late decision. I had Test Match Special on the wireless as I made some sandwiches. Two Aussie wickets down with the first two balls of the day. Should I stay home and listen? Nah. I can just about get long wave reception with my fishing radio on the dashboard.

The journey was slow. Not stop-start, but slow. The cricket made it bearable as more wickets tumbled. I arrived at the lake later than planned, even with the late start. Although there was a strong south-westerly blowing I chose to fish with the wind off my back. There was one other angler fishing the same bank - the only other angler on the lake, and he'd caught a decent bream in the morning. I felt like I was in with a chance.

I mixed up some groundbait and fired out a dozen and a half balls to the marker float which was over 12 feet of water with a fairly clean bottom. Then two method feeders were cast out temporarily while I rigged the third rod with a simple running leger and shot hooklink, and baited the rig with two 9mm Tutti Fruti bolie pellets. The method feeders were then swapped to cage feeders on simple helicopter rigs. The clouds started to gather but it remained bright.

Ever since I spent a year on a 'massage the dole figures' scheme working three days a week on a nature reserve I have disliked them. They are totalitarian. The argument that anglers disturb wildlife and damage the flora is a nonsense. The path was alive with butterflies as I walked to my swim. Small brown ones, small blue ones, larger white and speckled ones, all feeding on the masses of flowers.

Butterfly heaven

The baits had been out nearly an hour. Time for a recast then put the kettle on. I was screwing the gas bottle to the stove when I was disturbed by the sound of an alarm. The middle bobbin was up at the top, the line bowstring taut and the alarm still sounding. I lifted into the fish and felt not the thump of a bream, but the pull of something else. My first thought was that I'd hooked a carp, but it didn't feel too heavy, maybe a tench - of which there are supposed to be a few in the pit. It kept pulling to my right and kited in. Now this could be a problem as the water was a good two feet higher than normal. Sure enough the fish ended up in the marginal reeds that should have been stood in inches of water.

I'd almost put my wellies on, but there I was paddling out in my boots. I soon went over the top of the left one. I backed out and walked down the bank to see if a change of direction would free the fish. It didn't. What I could see of the fish wasn't much, just a vaguely dark back and some ripples on the surface. It looked like a decent tench. I put the rod down, removed my boots and socks then tried to roll up my trouser legs that were already damp around the ankles. Rod in one hand landing net in the other I soon realised that wellies wouldn't have been much use anyway. With the water up to my knees (and my trousers soaked to the same depth) the fish rolled on its side. It was a carp. I'd got soaked for a small carp!

Small carp & wet trousers

I left the fish in the margin while I took my trousers off and hung them on the back of my chair, covering my pale legs with my bib and brace. I put my boots back on my bare feet - Gortex lined boots don't feel clammy against skin when damp so I was quite comfortable. It would have been a different story in winter, though.

Luckily it was a good drying wind. Two hours later the trousers were dry enough to put back on. The clouds had coalesced to one grey sky. Bad light stopped play at Edgbaston. Then the rain arrived. Intermittent spots at first, falling lightly now the wind had dropped to a mere zephyr. Then getting heavier, but not heavy, and steady. I sheltered under the Aqua Rover.

What I wanted to do, not what I thought I ought to be doing

With the cloud cover, and the shortening days, dusk came around nine. I hoped to see the dark backs of bream rolling, but none showed themselves. Although it wasn't cold my feet were turning chilly. I packed up early, in the dark and rain, at half past nine. It could have been a better session, but it had been eventful in its way!