I always knew night would rule over day on the lake. So confirmation that the shoals of big slabs silently drift over the lake come night, hoovering up any and all bait in their way, came as no surprise. This brings with it a unique problem; we humans are programmed from an early age to sleep for an average of eight hours, rather inconveniently right when the best fishing on the lake occurs.
However modern angling has changed. We now have all the comforts and gadgets to enable us to spend nights on the bank not as anglers did twenty years ago, sleeping under a canvas sheet with lumpy ground grinding deep into our spines, waiting for a folded piece of tin foil to jerk up to the rod. This is long forgotten, as is sitting up all night shivering. Instant erect shelters and comfy bed chairs alongside electronic alarms allow us to curl up warm in slumber until that super bright LED light cuts through the dark, and silence is shattered by repetitive beeps. When with no thought of temperature change you jump into the night like an exciting child having snared Santa Claus in a dastardly trap.
I have all these comfortable things and I have trodden this Morlock life before, as the best fishing is to had when normal people slumber. A routine is developing as is familiarity with the lake; arrive late afternoon, bait up cast out, set up camp, then get my head down until the wee hours when the feasting begins.
At least that's what I thought when I slipped into my sleeping bag the other night. Turned out there was a fly in my ointment as I could not get to sleep!
I feel sure others have endured the sensation when you lay on your bed knowing that sleep is needed to withstand that sapping unnatural night time activity. Your body knows it should be asleep, and you are forcing yourself to remember to clip up on that tiny marker on your line, so you can hit that sweet spot blind in the dark, just so you can go through it all over again should another fish falls for your rouse.
The more I thought about it the worse it got as I lay in the dark waiting. Every so often I would look at the super bright screen of my mobile phone to check the time, only to see it was only a ten or more minutes later. My brain it would seem could not switch off. I could hear every rustle in the undergrowth around me. Every hoot and screech from around the lake. A tawny owl even took residence in a tree down the bank for a good half hour where it called constantly. The fact that I knew sooner or later fish would arrive too compounded the problem, as I had the stupid idea that come a specific time the fish would magically begin to feed. My mind and nature were combining forces to keep me awake and it was driving me slowly mad.
The time when I suspected it would begin passed and an hour beyond it a light flickered feet away from my now glassy eyes. At the first sign I flipped open the sleeping bag. At a definite double bleep I sat up and by the time the bobbin moved I was fumbling for my shoes in the dark.
Solid and kiting to the left it felt a good fish. Slowly and subtly resisting it came closer to the bank. But at the string of the net I thought I had caught the smallest strongest bream in the lake. Then as I lifted the net what my eyes were seeing turned out to be different to what my arms were lifting. When I unfolded the net it turned out my tired eyes were definitely lying to me.
Another eight pound plus bream was my reward for staying awake most of the night. The capture came as quite a relief after all that waiting. Though now the idea that I was about to spend the next few hours hovering round in the chilly night air as bream after bream grubbed around my swim seemed a little daunting in my current state. It took me a couple of casts to hit the clip and land the bait in an area I felt happy with and then I lingered for a while expecting more action. But nothing happened!
It is amazing how well we humans can hear in the dark. The buzzing of a mosquito which is normally inaudible in daylight can be pinpointed as it homes in on our body heat in the dark. It took all of three such flybys to get me heading back into the safety of my sleeping bag where, with the air of expectation broken, I drifted into a satisfied slumber.
I don't think the bream showed up after that odd lone fish or at least I never heard my indicator sound anyway as I slept. But just light broke a different bleep woke me.
The whole time I have been fishing the lake so far I have fished two totally separate set ups. Of four rods two are angled in the direction of bream, tench and carp. The other two are rigged to catch pike, perch and eels. The two sets of two rods are purposely fished on different indicators. The red light alarms for the omnivorous fish and blue for the carnivorous critters. Both sound very different from each other which helps along with the lights to differentiate them at night.
The only thing is that so far all action has originated from the red team. Which left me rather surprised when I heard a different sound as a run occurred. I can't deny that when I heard it, that I didn't jump straight out of bed and head half asleep too the wrong set of rods and wonder why I could hear a run but not see movement.
It did quickly click that a drop off indicator was lying on the floor and line intermittently was peeling from my open spool on my most left hand rod. Picking it up and clicking on the bale arm I could feel the fish moving away.The culprit made quite the swirl in the shallow water as I struck. Then came clear of the water moments later shaking it's head violently like summer pike tend too.
Not massive but finally after fishing dead bait rods for over a month on the lake a predator had found my bait.
Next time out I think I will give the fish baits a miss and dedicate both of these blue team rods to the humble lobworm with the hope that I might chance upon a eel or two which I know for a fact have lingered in these waters for hundreds of years.