Thursday, July 05, 2012

Dog day after tea

It was a funny day, weather-wise, yesterday. There were rain showers but it was warm enough between the short breaks to dry stuff on the washing line despite a lack of sunshine. Then there was a couple of thunderclaps in the afternoon before the rain left, according to the BBC weather page, for the rest of the day. A muggy night was predicted. It seemed like a good opportunity to try for an eel or two.

Unsure if my hip had recovered sufficiently to get me to the area I'd visited last week I set off to look at a spot with a track record. Many years ago I hooked the biggest eel I've seen in the canal there. It's a September day that I'll always remember. I had gone pike fishing and was paternostering livebaits. Baits about five inches long. I don't think any pike showed up but I did land a perch of a pound and a half, which was surprise enough. Then there was the eel. It wasn't massive but having caught and weighed bigger in the intervening years I'd say it was close to three pounds. Big enough for me for a canal eel.

The passage of time had changed things. Not so much for the worse, as the water still looked inviting, but for the inconvenient. Where there had been plenty of swims to give access through the marginal growth there were none. I had to fish closer to the car.

Gratuitous snail photo
The float rod was out first, but to little avail. It took almost an hour for the first bite to materialise. The first of the dogs didn't. Two thirteen week old beagles, all big paws, floppy ears and disobedience, came tumbling over themselves and each other. Friendly and inquisitive. I'd forgotten that this was a popular place for dog walkers. Reminded of this I checked my swim for turds I might miss when the light faded and I could be blundering around on my hands and knees with an eel. There was only one. I covered it with a scrap of wood I found lying around.

When the first bite came I was gawping at something or other. Turning my attention to the float it wasn't where it should have been. It was under the surface of the clear water travelling at a rate of knots! The resulting bream was borderline eel bait. Not having much in the way of frozen baits it got added to the stock. The second bite was more tentative. The bream too big to swing to hand and too big for bait. That was my lot.

Not being sure what the bottom would be like, with the water clear and it now July there was a strong possibility of it being covered in claggy weed. A few casts with an unbaited eel rig proved it to be fishable. As has now become my habit the long lead link rod was cast to the far side and the other dropped in the central channel. The light bobbins were put on long drops, the baitrunners set as slack as possible. Sit back and wait.

Two passing Labradors invaded my swim, sniffing for food. A mole burrowed its way along near my banksticks. I was sure I heard a cuckoo. I must have imagined it.

There wasn't much of a breeze. A very slight ripple was on the surface away to my right. Now we are past the longest day dusk is already coming noticeably earlier. The sky was thick with cloud making dusk come sooner still and last longer. There was no need for the fleece. More dogs went by. Ignoring me. Thankfully.

It was heading for ten, still light enough to live without the headtorch, when the right hand alarm sounded as the bobbin jumped up to the butt ring. It held there while the alarm continued to sound. The spool was stationary, which confused me, but the rod tip was pulling round. I lifted the rod and engaged the reel to feel an eel writhing. It wasn't a big one. I didn't weigh it. It did have me convinced I was getting the hang of things.

Eel with unusual eye 'defect'
The trace needed changing as I'd bent the hook while removing it. While rummaging in the rucksack for a fresh trace I was surrounded by a whirling mob of dogs that looked like they should have been pulling a sledge across the Arctic snows. And a collie. There were dozens of them. Or so it seemed as they milled around me. One had a crap. Two apologetic women appeared carrying plastic bags. The crap was removed.

Dog walkers on lakes are bad enough, but they usually do a circuit of the water so they only pass by the once. Here they walk from A to B and back again.. I had the dog pack to look forward to again. When they returned it was dark. At least the mutts had calmed down this time and they passed by without disturbing me. By now it was dark. There'd bee no more dogs. I could relax and wait for action.

Oh yeah? Half ten and another one appears. I like dogs, but I like peace and quiet more when I'm fishing. I'll think twice before fishing this stretch again. This time a boxer on a lead. The first dog to be under control all evening. On its way back the owner said he was looking forward to summer. It was drizzling again.

The left hand bobbin lurched upwards, stopped and dropped back. As so often seems to be the case, it wasn't long before the right hand bobbin did the same. So much for having the indication thing sorted. When I wound the baits in to pack up shortly afterwards they were both weeded. That probably explains why they got dropped. That's my excuse for now, at any rate.