Having what you believed to be true for as long as you can remember suddenly proven totally wrong by someone else is a hard thing to stomach. But when you see it yourself with your own eyes it is a real psychological slap. Especially when the repercussions that emanate from it reverb backwards through your life, making you see how many hours you have fruitlessly waiting for something that will never or probably ever happen. Well this happened to me on my last visit to the lake.
At 5.30 am the lake in no uncertain terms looked the part. Mist rising, the bright sun shrouded in low lying cloud and rippling fish as far as the eye could see. After finding the target area I fancied occupied by a bivvie filled with a snoring man we pushed on round the lake under the arch in the trees until the sun shone directly in our faces. With handles still cutting into my neck and hands I watched several good fish rolling at range. This was definitely the place for me.
My swim could not have looked more perfect but as I set up I kept getting the odd whiff of something highly unpleasant. Even after checking the soles of my shoes for something bad and seeing nothing, I was absolutely convinced I had somehow brought this stench up the bank with me. But the smell seemed intermittent at best and it would not be until later that I discovered the source.
I got cast out just in time to see several nice tench roll out in front. This only served to boost my confidence that before the sun got too high in the sky, a few fish may grace my net. Sitting behind two rods I waited with baited breath, although it's a good job I wasn't holding my breath, as nothing happened! I have seen this before and heard it from others when fish repeatedly roll and porpoise at dawn and dusk and never really get on the feed. The setting plus fish and not catching it was absolute torture.
The dawn was gone before I got my first sign of interest by way of a quick aborted take. Not long after this patches of bubbles rose all over a massive area in front of me. Bubbles we are taught are a sign of fish but! I myself have fallen for this one many times before. Rotting plant matter and just general gas escaping from the bottom of the lakes can do a brilliant impression of fish, especially when the temperature changes early in the day and your mind makes you believe. Only when you see them rising and fizzing up through clear water with no fish causing them, do you realise that you have been chasing bubbles. Though there is those times when it is undoubtedly fish, and when the area down to my right burst into an audible fizz I had to get my lift float rod out and cast a bait over it.
The rest of this fruitless session was spent hovering over that rod with nothing to show for my effort but two slight dips on the float. I did eventually figure what the awful smell was as I watched the float. Hidden in the edge under a tree was the half chewed bloated corpse of a pike. Every so often the breeze would send a whiff of this stinking corpse up my nose, forcing me to spend much of the morning with my face stuffed in my top.
As the sun got higher in the sky the clarity of the water became apparent. With my Polaroids on I could see the bait on the bottom under my float and the area seemed barren of fish although surprisingly clear of weed.
With the decision made to leave I decided to make my way slowly back whilst using the waters clarity to my advantage and checking out some areas I fancied fishing.
What I saw as I mooched back shocked me to the core. Standing in the correct angle to the sun I could see practically half way across the lake, the water was so clear. Weed patches, clear patches and bars all plainly obvious. One area I have spent many many hours fishing had a bottom that looked like the surface of a car park not the bottom of a lake. Amongst lillies which I had always assumed created a thick canopy to shelter fish, I could see the silted up bare bottom. How many hours had I wasted targeting these places over the years all for nothing! For at least a quarter of the lake the only life forms seen in the water were snails and pencil sized micro pike.
In water this clear I could have spotted a two ounce roach at fifty yards, but there was nothing at all as far as the eye could see. I know that under the cover of darkness that fish would stray back into this part of the lake, and that if I was prepared to do any nights here I could probably catch, but the realisation that this was more than likely the answer to why in the past myself, and many companions, had suffered so many demoralising blanks in this picturesque bit of water.
But this has got me thinking that most of the fish population, of which I know there is a large amount, must get pushed into quite confined area up near to where I had fished on this very session which could well work to my advantage this coming weekend.
Spending so much time on this one venue really is letting me see it in every possible light. Only a few weeks ago the entire area that on this occasion was clear was heavily coloured and quite probably full of fish, whereas now the suspended particles have settled leaving the the water clear and barren.