Wednesday, 18 April 2012

My heart belongs to the sea.

It was always going to be tough this weekend and I knew it. I had awoken early to the sight of frost powdering the car. This felt like someone pushing me down as I struggled to get get up. You see for the last week or so my vim or vigour towards fishing has been... well, lacking. Truthfully I miss the rivers and although I am going through the motions and I am in need of some contrast. I need to get away! Luckily I am going away in little under five days time towards the edge of our island to once again fish the biggest and ultimate venue the sea. As I wrote that I just thought of something... although we think of seas as individual entities they are actually just one massive body of water that surrounds all land. So yes it is the biggest venue here on planet dirt.

What got me onto this topic was this: as I froze my protrusions off in the savage wind, the sun mocking me by burning away at twenty seven million degrees Fahrenheit whilst I froze in clear sight of it, I fell into a trace as I waited for a run, and watched the small breakers at the end of the wind lanes down the bank.
It was almost as if I could hear the waves breaking on the shingle. That was it. Watching for rolling fish was forgotten and I was off in la la land day dreaming of heaving lead over the horizon towards shoals of sparkling silver bass and golden cod.

As with all dreams they end only too soon and I know you will expect me to confirm a heart thumping run but no, the alarm screamed not, instead my bobbin jiggled up and down as if some annoying bream had sucked up my bait and was wallowing round in a numb panic, as they do. And that's when it hit - me the lake I was fishing is rumoured to only contain around ten to fifteen bream. The last one caught if I remember rightly was a mere double... Trust me the thought of that got me moving. My strike met no sack fighting fish but throbbed instead as if I had hooked something of the silver variety.
It turned out to be a female tench of around three pounds whose fight was as insipid as her outfit. I did hope to snap the little darling but after I had stowed her safely in the net and put her gently on the mat, she found just enough energy to perform a single flip into the air and back in the lake leaving me looking like a numpty.

After that I tried desperately to get back into my day dream but like those times when you are woken in the middle of a wonderful dream and are unable to get back to sleep, I could not get back to dreams of the rolling waves.

Later after a visit from Keith and his son Max I was considering a nap when my right hand rod did one. Half way through the fight with a tench my other rod seemed to wake up. At first I thought the fish had gone through the line but the moment the tench slipped over the rim of the net the other one sparked off.
This felt very odd indeed. It was powerful but not, if you get my meaning. It was kiting round all over the place and that made me suspect maybe a larger male tench was on the end of the line.

When it rolled on the surface it clicked straight away. The carp in this lake are freak shows! They are an odd stumpy strain whose single common trait through the ranks is a short stumpy body type. Most look like they have consumed a beach ball, and when I pulled this one out it was no different.

Lying side by side on the mat the little carp made the little tench look quite big, but the tench although unweighed was no way over two and a half pounds. Macabre interest made me quickly weigh the carp at just under 4lb.

I couldn't stop looking at this weird thing and the more I did the more it looked like a perfectly scaled down big carp. As I know how much carp anglers like to name their catches so I am going to take this opportunity to name this one. So from this day forth it shall be know as 1:10

After that bit of excitement I recast and willed the alarms to sound one more time before I went home and moth balled my coarse gear for a while, dusted off the beach caster rods before stripping the old line of my reels in earnest .

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

3 Days on the old red eye.

I love tench and I love them for many reasons too. For me they are the most strangely attractive fish that swims in our waters. Dark greens to black and golden yellows are all set off by that bright red eye, which I for one cannot look at enough. Not only is it what they look like that makes me love them so much, but what they stand for. It's simple! They are the banner men of summer. Carp and bream can both be caught all year round but old tinica tinica disappears over the long cold winter. Sure a rare one gets caught in the cold but most stay hidden in slumber. I have read numerous old tales where savage winters and constant ice have destroyed entire lakes by suffocating all other fishes except tench. Their survival seems always attributed to their supposed habit of burying themselves half in silt and mud. Lying dormant until they are the only ones who remain and then the tench phase of that lakes life cycle can begin.

With the fishing season long gone I always turn at this time towards my old favourite the tench, which on a few select lakes dominate. My first foray onto another pit last time out was in my opinion a little premature, and resulted in a failure which dented my confidence momentarily. 

I have a grand plan for the summer and for this grand plan to stand a chance of working, the rigs I use must be honed fine as fine can be; the venue for my summer plan takes no prisoners and any bites must be converted at all costs. So not only am I using this official off season to get in some well appreciated tench fishing but I am also getting used to these new rigs and practising fishing at range, which is another must on this new venue.

Day 1
The sand pit looks great. A lot of the banks have been cleared over the winter but soon enough the brambles will be again hindering casting. The wooded bank is my destination and I knew even before I got here that the wind would be blowing right to left, coming in from the north east. The tench in this lake seem to feed well in certain areas when the wind whips up the lake, so I settle on a swim that allows me to cast right to the start of the ripple which will hopefully carry the scent of my bait across most of the lake.

I am not baiting a big patch in the hope to get a horde of ravenous tench on it. Instead I am probing fishing small patches of bait tight to my hook bait, using the theory that a group of fish may chance upon it as they saunter along the top of the bar I am cast upon.

Low and behold it works and my first run of the day starts with a single bleep before the alarm goes wild and the spool spins out of control. At distance everything feels massive for a moment but soon enough it turns into a  pretty standard size female of around 3lb.

Over the years I have fished this water I have realised there are two distinct strains of fish which only differ in one way; colour! There is no size or shape difference, just colour. The dark green fish and the washed out fish. Why there should be these two different I can't fathom. I originally suspected two differing stockings, but they seem to be all ages of both strains and of both sexes. The split does seem weighted more in the favour of the dark fish, but the differing strains still remain a mystery.

 Chuffed that my rig is working, I cast again back into the general area and soon after the other rod hurtles off identically to the first. A single bleep, then beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!!!
This hookup ends badly when the fish throws the hook in my right hand margin. Perplexed I repeat the ritual to cast again. I was right to be perplexed! The next two come off as well and doubt now creeps in over these new rigs. With four runs and only one converted into a fish I rack my brain for the fault in the rig and how it's going wrong. Luckily the bites tail off and gives me enough time to think about the problem.

The penny drops when I realise that every fish has been lost as I apply side strain to stop them getting into a snag to my right. There is nothing wrong with my rig, it's when that rod goes low that they come off. Instantly I see the problem: I am using a self hooking rig with a short hook link and a barbless wide gape hook which has a shank not much longer than the point. It is almost a circle with a piece missing. When I hold the rod low it reduces the amount of hook point penetrating, so when the fish turns it can flip the hook off quite easily.

The answer is simple; keep the rod up at all costs thus keeping the hook embedded as deep as possible. This itself we all know is easier said than done as when a fish dives into something you have to try and pull it out. To stop this issue is stupidly simple. As I am fishing at range, time is on my side, so I simply steer the next fish into open water whilst its out in the lake by pulling towards the snag, which automatically sends them other way.

It works a treat and the next three fish hit the net with total confidence and everyone becomes a winner.
Although most of the fish are a little under the average size it would seem the past winter has done them no harm  as every one is in perfect condition.

The last fish of the day comes as I linger as we all do on the bank. All my kit is  packed away apart from both rods and the indicators on which the rest and my net which is next to them. I stand between the packed and unpacked willing a rod to go off one more time. 
Just as I reach for the left hand rod to go the right one beeps then squeals...

5.9lb is a bit more like it.

Day 2
This is a stolen session no doubt. With crappy weather coming in later in the weekend, Friday is designated a day of gardening. First I dig and construct two new beds at the end of the decking where a super kitsch row of privet are to separate wood from grass, before planting a neighbour-blocking pear tree to complete our mini orchard. Then I help Jacky plant a few other things before diving into the huge pile of reclaimed wood destined to become raised beds, which I hope will be done soon enough for them to be filled with earth and planted with my autumn favourites, pumpkins.

All that done and I drop the bomb. "You won't mind if I nip out for a short one would you" ........ "Thanks B.  Any chance you would drop me off?......"
Turns out my lack of moaning and hard work paid off, because within the hour I was back in yesterdays spot and the same rigs sploshed in at range.

My luck at getting out was not however reflected by the weather. The wind had swung round and now a freezing wind chills me and the lake from the north west.

Luckily I did hold and release one small female back into the lake, but after that the only action seemed rather half hearted.

Day 3
Saturday there was no fishing as my good friend Rob came down from the Cotswolds. Himself a keen angler he was quickly roped in to come back the next day with me to hang out and act as camera man.

I could not believe my luck, the same swim was free and I knew Keith had fished it the day before and bagged a load of fish. Three days worth of bait was enough to get me walking a bit quicker than normal to get it.

This time I had brought some red maggots just in case the tench didn't fancy the bigger boilies. Same spots, same ground bait, but two different hook baits to feel them out with and I stood and waited. Something under the water had caught my eye on my last visit. Unable to resist I got the net in hand I grubbed around until I scooped it out.

The first year I fished this lake I spotted one of these carving up the bottom as it headed off into deeper water. This ones moving days were well behind it but it was full of bloodworm and some other unknown creepy crawlies. What did amaze me, was what had caught my eye was in fact the pearlescent patch in the centre of the shell and the sheer size of it. Alive this thing must have weighed over a pound.

My first run did not take long to turn up and the ripping run and hefty bend in the rod initially indicated a possible bigger fish. Half way in I realised it was in fact one of the crazy crew.

Great big fancy black fins and an attitude to match. Yep two pound maximum of mental case male tench.

Four more followed. The first two falling to the maggot bait then as the day warmed the boilies became the winning bait. Again though the fish seemed smaller than average, but in great condition. It took time for the bites to materialise but when they did it went exactly the same way every time. Single beep then onto a screaming alarm and spinning reel, then keep the rod high and in they come. After that initial spell of doubt I now know this rig will be coming along for the summer campaign on the harder venue as it works a treat.

After Rob chipped off back into the hills, the lack of sleep from the previous night's fish-talk took its toll, and I nodded off in my chair with my hood up. I must of looked hilarious to anyone watching when the right hand rod melted off. I went from asleep to awake instantly and for what seemed like an age my feet failed to get purchase on the floor in a rather comical way. It's a pity Rob had left as I know it does make him laugh when I am not concentrating, get a run from nowhere then and end up diving at the rod in some stupid manner!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Impossible to avoid the inevitable.

The elation of my last session has now passed and all that remains of that high is stored in the cold computerised world. Occasionally though a warm memory creeps back and I smile with satisfaction as I picture it again.  

I have been in a ponderous mood all week and the question now, is what next?  How could any other experience stand up against it, other than smashing another personal best. So I find myself asking where can I go to catch say a 12lb bream or a 10lb tench, and then I answer myself and say 'don't be so bloody stupid Everitt, you know from this position the only way is down'. So the answer right now can only be to either accept second best and be satisfied with the forgettable, or gamble it all again with the chance to win big. 

With little or no wish to capture hollow spawned perch, the next targets in my cross-hairs are the aforementioned bream and tench. The latter of which I worry will still have sleep in their eyes and mud covering their buttery bellies. But still I cannot change tack, for the wheels are in motion and to the Tench pit we go.

Warm days have been here enough for me me to think I have an outside chance, but clear overnight skies see that when I wake frost clings to my lawn, and I make that noise a plumber makes before he tells you it ain't cheap. Again still I worry that we are going down the wrong track. My mood swings though as I read from the eye burning computer screen that both bream and tench were taken from the pit yesterday. So on we go over the top like soldiers from the great war destined to succeed or fail.

We arrive in the dark and are set up soon enough to enjoy sunrise which never looks better than when it is over misty water. This picture alone makes taking the gamble worthwhile, for I have forgotten this as I overwinter fishing rivers on grey days.

The sight of a green tench launching itself clear of the water not long in gave me hope. But my experiences of bright days on this pool which is so clear as you can see the gravel bars with the sun at the right angle, is that the chances of bites once the sun is up are minimal.

Two moves to try and search out hiding fish proved fruitless and I feel the gamble is lost. No fish will come my way today or anyone else's either. So what to do but sit back, let the spring sun warm my face, and drag back that memory for another cheeky smile.