It was only a few hours before that I was writing of the lake and now I was standing next to it again readying myself . The rush hour journey as always drives me mad and being keen to get into peace and solitude had only heightened the whole experience. It's not that I was desperate to be fishing, more I was desperate to be out of the city away from cars and noise.
Although one reason for me being here was to fish, the other was to watch the lakes routine as it rolls slowly from light to dark. This for me is the most important time of the day. Call it what you will, the witching hour or that special time, but to be by water when the harsh light of day suddenly refracts less, you stand a chance to see things that all day have remained hidden. I've seen this on so many places when the sun dips onto the horizon end everything starts to move. Flat water becomes dotted with the rings of a million tiny fish, carp occasionally breech and lovely shoals of bream or tench roll gayly on the surface, and for the avid angler, they reveal their location.
I remember fishing on a pit one summers evening with a peacock quill lift float. My wriggling worms had only attracted the attentions of a few small greedy perch. As the light faded I looked out over the water and spotted a single fish roll directly in front. This was followed intermittently by others. By the time I had seen ten or more I had reeled in and was shimmying up the bank behind. At the top my jaw fell slack! In front of me the water was black with bream just under the surface. They were so tightly packed only the fish at the edges of this great gathering had outlines. I remember thinking at the time that giving a running start I reckon a good distance could be accomplished running across the backs there was so many of them. All afternoon I had sat beside that lake without so much as hint of what was out in front of me before that one change heralded this mass appearance.
So this was why I was here, to fish yes, but also to learn more. Only thing was that with the summer solstice just passed I had plenty of time to wait till night drew in, but other fishy goings on were watched as I waited. Two different carp anglers arrived at a bleached old tree that has laid in the lake for as long as I remember. One even donned his chest high waders before sliding into the water bucket in hand. He scooped copious amounts of something around the snag before teetering back to the edge. Then shortly after he went a graceful pair of swans arrived and upended, mopping up probably every morsel over the next two hours.
I watched the lake go through just about every possible scenario of light levels. From sunny and warm to cloudy with a decent ripple but not a thing moved during the entire time I was there. I stood vigil, my eyes fixed on the water, and the lake stared back. Quite honestly it felt like a shoot out scene from an old western movie, when the two gun slingers stand ether end of dusty street waiting for the other to move. The only thing that was missing was tooth picks and tumble weeds. In the end it turned out to be a real stalemate! I was unwilling to look away and it never made a move and that included bites.
There was still a hint of light on the lake when one of my rods rang loudly in the darkness but as I moved quickly towards it I caught a glimpse of dark shapes bobbing over my swim. Those dam tufty's and their flipping great memories had snuck in silently and were now taking it in turns to dive onto my bait.
Another angler I know, who shall remain nameless (unless he wants to admit it) uses a green laser pen to scare wildfowl from over his baits and remembering this inspired me to try something. My camera has a very bright flash that practically blinds me when doing night time self takes, so I flipped up the flash and positioned myself behind the reed bed in front so as to not get too much flash on the water. I even aimed it up off the water before firing it off. Low and behold the whole flock took to the air in panic, never to return.
Only after night fell and the owls began to hoot from the old wood over the lake did I detect a few small fish flipping close by on the surface. But those tantalising rolling fish never appeared and nor did any crashing mighty fish in the dark. Nothing had given itself away and this session ended in stalemate.