Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Lake #7 I need a break

I have become so involved and single minded about the lake, that from my perspective I cannot see what I have become. So when on the weekend just passed, Keith popped over for a social visit at my home from home beside the lake, I got an outsiders perspective on the situation.

As he ambled towards my camp through the woods with a smile on his face proclaiming his admiration for my chosen spot he looked relaxed. When he caught sight of the arsenal of rods protruding through tiny gap in the reeds he lifted his shades from his eyes and his jaw fell slack. After giving him a detailed explanation of the different dynamics of every rod and my thinking behind each one he fully understood. And after all Keith too knows how fickle the lake is and why I should want to maximise my chances of catching. This was the point were he stated that he thought the lake was getting under my skin. And as he said it to me at no point did I actually think he was wrong. If one of the most fanatical anglers I know thought my outlook was say a little shocking and thought it was perfectly normal. Maybe I was getting a little over involved.

After a catching up for a few hours Keith headed off into the night leaving me to try and grab a few hours kip ready for the middle of the night onslaught. Lying on my back in the dark with mosquitoes strafing me  I pondered whether I may becoming obsessed with the lake. It was winter when I conceived this idea and since it's conception I had slowly and pragmatically readied myself. Barring only one exploratory trip to check out a new river ticket I acquired this year, any and all allotted fishing time has been syphoned into the lake, and all my off the bank pondering has been about the lake too. I noticed the other day that in most pictures of me holding a dripping fish that I seem to have developed a distant stare. Though as yet I have not started rocking back and forth or chatting quietly within my bivvy.

Sleep and crept over me somewhere mid mull, but an alarm soon woke me. Looking out the door towards the lake a blue light was on. I told myself it must have been a liner but as my eye lids slowly closed again it went again. The bream were in the swim and the one bothering this bait seemed to be struggling to choke down the epic bait not intended for it. But eventually by seeming force alone the culprit forced its self around the bait which in turn rang the bell on my end. And all too soon I was again covered in slime and photoing myself with another seven something two toner.

Hmmm, slightly distant stare...

God knows how many times I had got up in the now chilly night to deal with another small bream which had hung it's self up on a bait intended to be to big for them. They were getting smaller as the night wore on and I was for one was beginning to think this is just to bloody much. As an angler it sounds awful to say this, but I was glad when the shoal passed out the swim just so I could get some sleep.

My mobile phone alarm woke me to recast just after sun up and half lucid peeping from my sleeping bag with my nose swelling from a nagger bite I actually said out load to myself  "I need a break!" Even with the epiphany that had just slipped out I did get up and recast. On the last of the four rods I decided to make a slight change as the sun was down sparkling through the clear water. The bottom bait was removed and replaced with a two grains of popped up sweet corn to sit up off the method ball like a flag. It hadn't been out ten minutes before ripping off. This was no bream for sure and it was too small for a carp. At last I had hooked one of the illusive tench that turn up rarely from the lake and that I so desperately wanted. Sadly it didn't last to long before I got that slack sensation running back to the rod. I didn't bother recasting and instead began that most arduous of tasks packing up after a night on the bream.

The next day with a few decent meals inside and a proper nights sleep under my belt the idea of a trip to one of my favourite little stretches of river seemed the perfect salve. Days before I had taken Jacky to Stratford for the day and as we sat in the busy park the Avon looked just right for a spot of barbel chasing and that heavy colour should have be fining down just nice by now.

Compared to dragging all the gear I have had to miles round the lake. Carrying a small bag, two rods and a seat was bliss. Even in the dark I could tell the river still had some power and colour. I first dropped my gear at a swim at the top of the river before depositing a little bait to stew just off a nice crease on the inside bank. I then headed down stream to bait up a few other swims for later. I crept back into my first swim and lowered my rig into place silently. After an hour I had established that yes, there was plenty of small pecking fish in the swim but seemingly nothing big that wanted to play ball.

Though the morning I dropped down to swim after swim giving each one equal attention but by mid morning all I had hooked was a few overzealous roach. By now the sun was up and rather warm. Even with the river heavily coloured I got the feeling that the better the cover the better my chances of connecting a barbel. So headed back to a swim I had fished earlier which had the most cover on the whole stretch.

The morning was drifting away and all that had come my way was an odd pair of swans and their strange offspring.

Weirdly I actually saw the swans treating the goose almost like they would a cygnet and it followed them everywhere they went. The swans even got a bit defensive towards me when they ventured onto my bank. I wonder if some sneaky goose may have pulled a cuckoo on them and plopped an egg in their nest whilst they weren't looking.

My attention was beginning to wain and I was just about to have a flick through Facebook on my phone when rod tip went from straight to bent in the blink of an eye. Even having not fished this way for a good long while the ground in instinct to apply max pressure and keep the rod tip low as possible came back instantly.
Those moments of stalemate when you utter to yourself "come on, get out" seemed to go on for ages and to my elation I soon got it into open water.
It kept deep, repaetedly diving back towards cover in surging runs and I knew it was a big barbel. It couldn't be anything else in this bit of river. Time and time again I had to steer it away from the far banks reeds but still it kept deep. Then in a huge boil I caught a quick glimpse of a massive coral tail. Now my heart was thumping. I knew a very big fish was landed a few weeks ago from this stretch and I was sure I was now connected to it.
Gradually it seemd to tire and it seemd to begin to come up in the water. The next sight of it got me going even more, as it seemed very thick indeed. Then the next time I saw I thought thats a very dark barbel.
Then I saw the head of the fish as it rolled on the surface and my heart sank. It was an impostor who was doing probably the best impression of a barbel ever.

A further five minutes of determined fight later I coaxed it into my net. After one of the hardest fights I have ever had in fast shallow steamy water I had my prize... A  fighting fit twelve pound twelve ounce river carp.  

Even though it wasn't a barbel I could not be dissapointed with such a perfect example of a free as you like, wild born river carp. It was rock hard nose to tail and the orange tail was close to as big as both my hands put together. And it wasn't finished yet! After resting it in the edge whilst I set up the camera for a quick snap I laid it down on the soft grass unfolded the net where it went mental. I should have set the camera on to video because I feel sure I would of had £250 quid in my pocket from You've Been Framed after this performance. As much as I wanted the trophy shot, it didn't! It battered me senseless. I got a tail slapped in my face. It did that menical vibrating thing repeatedly in my arms. In the end after three failed attempts I gave in and opted for the on the ground shot before slipping it back to pull one over on the next unsuspecting barbel angler.

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Lake #6 I can't sleep

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.

Monday, 16 July 2012

The Lake #5 Into the woods I go.

The lake in three places is flanked by three very different woods that certainly effect the areas of water they line. The old rhododendron wood is, as it's name implies, festooned with this rampant alien. Although all of the trees that form the canopy of this wood are truly English; so many are ancient old oaks that Autumn pike fishing under it's cover on a windy day is a dangerous affair, with acorns falling from height like bullets, clonking any unaware anglers out of there essox related day dreams. When dusk comes this is a noisy place to be. The dense foliage crated by the rhododendrons harbours masses of pheasants whose eerie vibrating calls ring out echoing through the silent air. The trees too hide unseen avians that awaken at night. A large amount of little owls seem to roost eyes closed up in those three tops, only to wake at night and begin shrieking back and forth to each other with the regularity of metronome testing faculty. All in all by day it is a quiet spot, bar falling nuts. But by night it is not the place for those afraid of screeches in the night.

On the opposite bank exists the second of the three woodlands which is in a way different from the other two. Where the lake laps at the land a front line of old English trees hang out over the water, slowing reclaiming the wood at their own pace. The hand of man still dots this place with a host of trees which have little to right to exist here. Browns wood is dense and over grown, a dark place with crumbling old buildings hidden under moss deep in its depths. Once in my youth myself and some friends ventured into it's depths and found an old path lined with massive stones that looked like it wouldn't look out of place with fairies buzzing over it. We followed it as far as we could until natures growth cut us off, and retreat from the stifling air and dank was our only option. This wood hangs so far and densely over the lake you can't see out of it, never mind cast from it even in the dead of winter when the trees fall bare.

The brook wood is the final of the three and of all of them this one looks probably as England did thousands of years ago. In the winter it is open and the cold wind courses through it onto your back, chilling you to the bone. Come spring, passage through it becomes difficult, the myriad of brambles that offer cover to all the usual characters serve to keep out humans. It faces Browns wood, only separated from each other by the lake. On the right day the wind deflects off either wood leaving the shallow water still and warm. If the sight of ancient aloof carp cruising through lily pads stimulates, you then an hour spent up a tree in this wood would have you salivating and possibly being tricked into commitment to a fruitless cause. 

The latter of the three was where I fancied might be good for a cast. The pad lined base of Browns wood on the other bank is both secure and safe for fish. The shadows of anglers have not been cast over this water in a hundred years. A hefty chuck it is to that far bank, and it is only normally the dedicated carpers who fish this water.

At four in the morning the water was still shrouded in mist and barley visible. The banks were quiet and deserted. I could hear the sudden calls of moorhens along the reed beds as I slipped unseen around the edge of the lake. Not one angler was under the cover of the trees, which was very surprising. Normally hard worn carpers doze in this area with bags under their eyes and nets caked thick in bream slime. To them one proper bite in five days is good, and double figure bream moping up their carefully placed boilies is bad. They are always a font of up to date information; Dave who's on the other bank got done over by the bream last night, or Kev over in the wood is getting plagued by tench. They always hand over that stuff freely. But ask about carp and they close up quicker than a bivalve at a clam bake. If ever I see a jumping carp or cruising zeppelin I always pass on the info to the first interactive carper I see at the lake, as frankly they need any help they can get as one fish per season is considered good by the lake's standards.

My normal casual lead around confirmed the shallow bay in front was peppered with random patches of differing types of weed. The last third of the cast to the far bank seemed clear enough so a few balls of left over ground bait was sent around the marker, followed by a single feeder on this spot. The second was put tight into a weed bed just beginning to break the surface and the third was nailed full tilt onto the far bank lily line at the edge of the wood.

I saw my first fish roll after only half an hour and it was definitely the brown back of a bream. All along the far bank they rolled for a good hour. Then a big common breached full out of the water before making two less spectacular jumps amongst the pads. As the day grew lighter and the mist cleared the lake looked different somehow. It was the water! It was heavily coloured. Like many old lakes this one is feed by an inlet stream and according to other resident anglers it had been spewing dirty sediment laden water in for the latter half of last week. This though had seemingly pushed the majority of the fish population down into the end of the lake I was actually fishing.

A while after the rolling fish disappeared and the liners started. Even with my line pinned down as best I could the active fish seemed to catch them as they passed. As far as I could figure there was weed bed half way between my spots and me and as the lines slumped down over it that was where they kept contacting them.

As I was embroiled in a conversation with another angler heading deep into another wood when the rod I had tight to the far bank first bleeped once then moved off steadily. Much to mine and my companions delight. Immediately I knew this was no bream as my three pound test rod did a very good impression of a hula hoop. Keeping slow and deep it kited left then back right before surging towards me. Desperately trying to keep up I wound down as quick as possible only to feel the numb thump a fish makes when it's head is deep in a weed bed.
After applying as much I thought safe, my only option was to hand the rod around a tree and wade through the chest high foliage into the next swim to try and change the angle. And it worked! the fish was free and the clutch sang one long note as it dived deeper into the weed bed. Tracing back to my swim I again changed angle but this time the thumping was gone and line again was spooled onto to my reel. The pile of weed I landed was massive; an estimate of five pounds of bloodworm riddled weed may be a conservative.

It has been a long time since I felt the loss of a fish so badly and also a long time since I have felt the raw force of something truly massive and uncontrollable. Bream or tench it was not. A carp or cat was definitely responsible for that overpowering fight. Even if I knew it was a massive cat I know I would not feel the pain of loss so badly as what I honestly suspect it was. For those carp are just so special that even when you hook one by pure luck it feels like you have wasted your only chance ever...

By mid morning I had calmed somewhat and the mist was gone. Now the unseasonal sun baked down on the water. The liners had slowed and water grew calmer. A single bleep drew my attention to my bobbins in the hope one might just rise against all odds. Just beyond the bank a sight no angler could ignore suddenly appeared. With no doubt in my mind I knew exactly what it was. Then again tiny fizzing bubbles rose all at once.
One or more tench browsed right under my rods and I could not resist. My spare rod was blindly grabbed . Float, rubber, weight and hook where all attached by feel alone as my eyes would not move away. They were feeding exactly where I tossed any old bait or hookers. I do not think I have ever so gently lowered a bait into place. For the next two hours I watched that float like a hawk willing it to first rise a little before sliding away

It never did slide away attached to a lovely summer tench, but eventually I did slide away to watch someone else on TV waste the wonderful chance he probably won't ever get again.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Lake #4 Is that done.

I have always been prone to a niggling feeling or two and I already have a niggling feeling that I have may have been over cooking my fishing on the lake a bit. By this I mean that I am wondering that my Dresden style bombardment of ground bait may be effecting the dynamic of my time on the lake.

Sure when I have a prolonged amount of time on the bank as I did on my last visit, a mass ground baiting is perfectly logical. Given time the new feature on the lakes desolate bottom will always attract fish. But there is no doubt in my mind that the initial disturbance sends any fish resident within quite a large area scampering.
So for the shorter evening sessions putting in any amount of bait seems a foolhardy waste. Yes they will more than likely get on it, but more than likely when I am at home supping a cup of tea ruing the blank.
Thinking this has caused an early change of tack, though this experimental idea I will only apply to short sessions where I do not wish to clear the decks for the entire time I fish.

My love of the method ball is undoubted. Having that small concentrated patch of bait with my hook bait nestled right on the top like a tempting cherry to me is the pinnacle of accuracy. Even fishing over a large bed of bait as I have been, the method ball is a must. I always imagine a shoal of fish confidently moving from one pile of free bait to another filling there boots on free grub, when Bang! one of them pick the wrong one and my bite alarm shrieks shrilly before I strike.
This in mind, instead of wasting bait again, I thought I would have a go at softly softly catchy fishy. Though only intending to use a small amount of bait I did opt to super charge it with fishy attractiveness by adding unimaginable amounts of fish meal, fish oil and other potent ingredients.

So the other night I put this into practise for a few hours and snuck back to the lake in the sheeting rain to try this experiment out and see what reaction I got.

The bank was deserted and quiet. Even the local wildfowl were absent on this warm wet evening. Upon opening my bait bucket the tangy fishy stench jumped right down my throat. There was no doubting the pungency of this stuff and hopefully the fish would think so too.

Although simple, my application of it was to be organised. One bait just off the marginal shelf where days before I had spotted the tell tale fizz of feeding tench last time. The second around mid range on the marker still clipped on my rod from the previous session and the third punched out as far as my rod would allow. Should any one rod get more attention than the others, then one by one the others would be carefully redistributed into that area.

Again the night passed quietly and through the low visibitly I did spot what I suspect were rolling bream on line for my middle rod but none of them found my bait, as stinky as it was.
It was the long range rod than finally sparked into life, but the bite never truly developed. It just beeped a few times dropped, then rose, then beeped. Even bream sooner or later make a bite indicator sing when they feel the searing sting of hook.
After hoovering over the rod for an age and checking the area for tufties I finally made the decision to lift into it and was rewarded with absolutely nothing. But once the rig hit my hand the problem was evident and very unlucky. When setting up I split a boilie in two and casually tossed into the bait bucket. Low and behold I had one boilie on the hook and half a boilie impaled on the hook masking the point from whatever picked it up.

That was my only action over the short session and by dark, hunger had become the new psychological battle. Gutted to miss the only action of the night due to an avoidable mistake I made my way back through the damp woods.

Though I feel that this was no gauge of how successful this tactic can be, and it certainly won't be the last chance I give it. I am beginning to wonder if the shorter evening sessions are going to be worth it especially having to fish at range. Maybe if the damn sun ever makes an appearance I might target one of the few lily beds in the shallow bay for a spot of classical lift float fishing on a sultry summer night.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Lake #3 Patiently waiting.

The water that makes the lake is clear, very clear. Add to that the fish are wise to our tricks and it can make a rather unsavoury daytime outlook for the dedicated few who sit sentry on it's banks. Certain inhabitants can be incited on cloudy days, but most seem dormant till night fall. This is why evening and night becomes   the focus of my attentions.

Upon arrival the sky was blue and as always, when hiking some distance, the sun beat down upon me as I laboured to the lakes edge. However just as I arrived, foreboding black clouds drifted towards me. Shelter became my only concern, with casting a distant intention; spending the entire night damp in the humid mozzie filled air that shrouds the lake does not appeal. Camp struck, the time had come for me to prepare traps and execute plans, as after all I was here not to camp but to fish.

I have grown to quite enjoy using a marker set up the last few years. Unlike some fastidious anglers I have watched diligently making detailed maps of the water in pencil, noting down the topography of the bed, I prefer to just feel around whilst trying to imagine what the underwater scene looks like. Major features and their locations are committed to memory and once I find something I fancy, a few repeat casts just confirms its suitability to my cause.

Certain areas of the lake are at the moment patchy with dense carpets of silk weed covering large areas. The clearer bits in between the swaths of dark green weed are made up of silt covered gravel and sand. The weed in the area where I had just made camp is apparently sparser. Between thirty and fifty yards out there was a band of pretty constant weed which faded out up to the sixty yard mark. Beyond that was totally clear as if a road had been cut through the weed. This was the perfect place for my traps to be set.

It has become evident to me already that fishing on the lake is a waiting game. Depositing liberal amounts of free food seems to always attract attention but inevitably you have to wait. On my first session over a week ago I offered up a large amount of bait which took four hours to mature on a cloudy day. Today a much larger deposit was going to be made as the whole night was mine, and I didn't want a poultry few balls to be ignored.

It takes a fair amount of time to ball up what I was about to chuck out into tennis ball sized globes. It also looks pretty funny sitting there all piled up like apples on a fruit stall - not that you would ever consider eating one - and when it goes in it makes a hell of commotion.
I think all men love playing with catapults. It is a throwback to childhood and I am no different. When I get my whoppa dropper catapult in hand I cannot help but start to form a wry boyish smile as if I am going to do something naughty. I had no intention of trying to be accurate. Instead I purposely loosely fired the balls out around the bright pink float bobbing on the surface, spreading the bait as best I could over a tennis court sized area, which would give a big target zone for blind casting later.

An hour and a half after arriving the traps were set and the waiting began. I had brought a copy of John Steinbeck's 'The Pearl' to pass the time, but the allure of the lake pulled my eyes away constantly, so reading was sidelined in favour of watching. If Jacky saw me doing this I know she would accuse me of just mooning. But I could assure her that my seemingly trance like state would have easily been broken by the slightest disturbance to the water. I had no idea how long I stared transfixed by the lake but eventually I got that strange sensation that everything other than the water was bending slightly too the right.
I knew this was to be a serious waiting game and day faded to dusk, then dark soon followed whilst I patiently waited. Soon enough I crawled into the warmth of my sleeping bag, with only the slightest hint of human left peeping out so as to avoid the mozzies.

Not until seven hours had passed and the lake was shrouded in total black did anything happen. Then a shrill electronic sound cut through the night and woke me from my slumber. It was as if someone had just yanked one of my lines then let go. Half out of bed I stopped still watching the red light a few feet away. Was it just a liner? Then it went off again as something moved slowly off with my bait. Striking into a fish a long way out into the lake in the middle of the night is always exciting. The initial solid resistance yielded quickly and turned into an odd sensation that something was swimming backwards! Straight away I knew it was an eel and this excited me even more as I do love a good eel. It felt a powerful fish and the rod bent in that healthy but not worrying way. When my head light caught a flash of white in the edge I was confused. That was until a pair of whiskers and a massive gob broke the surface.

I had heard rumours that the lake contained a few cats but to bag one on my first night on the lake was amazing. I have wasted plenty of time trying to land my first cat on heavily stocked waters not one hundredth this ones size, and here I was with my first one in hand on a lake I would never have thought would ever produce one for me.
Having never caught one before left me feeling like a kid again. They are essentially just a mouth and stomach attached to a massive tail, and this little moggy had been using that massive mouth to good effect scooping up my bait wholesale. Through its soft skin I could feel my hard packed freebies, boillies and all.

I hadn't even got back into the my sleeping bag when another bobbin dithered up. Another 8lb bream was dragged in from half way across the lake and in under fifteen minutes I had gone from dry and warm to cold and covered in slime. 

My sleep for the night was over now because a shoal of bream had moved in and they had their heads down in a big way. Both rods cast on the baited area were constantly going off as the shoal noised around the swim, grubbing up my lines even though they were pinned hard too the bottom. The disco tech going on at the front of my rod pod at first was amusing, but all too soon I got the distinct impression that I was beginning to disturb others over the lake. Even with the volume right down the sound cut through the still night air like a gun shot. I had to turn them to silent and rely on the flashing led lights and the bait runners for indication before I was lynched. A slew of seemingly ever more slimy smaller bream slipped over my net for the next two hours before they just carried on through the swim and the bites stopped as quickly as they started.

Even with a good few hours sleep prior to the fish arriving I was knackered. I made what I now know to be two poor casts towards the spot, turned the alarms back on and crawled back into the warmth of my bed. I awoke naturally just as the sun hinted at it's arrival and the mist began to steam up of the surface of the lake.
Refreshed I got up and recast the rods more accurately onto the spot and it was a good job I did!

At first I thought the line was just settling as the bobbin slacked right off, but then it jerked up before hitting the floor. The strike met a seeming powerful fish that hugged the bottom all the way to the edge before trying to bore into a nearby bed of rushes. This fish felt like a tench until a huge humped back broke the surface.
Lying in the net it didn't look as big as the previous two eights I had landed but when I lifted the net up I got  that 'this feels a bit heavier' feeling, and sure enough it's weight laid across it's width. Laid on it's side it looked like a pig of a fish and was easy six inches thick. With a hefty weight of 9.7lb made it the best of the session.

Two more six somethings followed it before the swim died off again. These few fish must have been from a different shoal which arrived late to the party. Even half asleep I had noticed that over the night at least half the bream I landed were two tone. Phil from commented on my previous write up that the two tone colouration is believed to be caused by stress, and I wondered if the presence of cats in the water has anything to do with it.

When it quieted down, I again slipped off into the land of nod only to be woken again. This time however it was the warming and more importantly drying sun which filled up my shelter.
I felt how a cat must when it bathes in the sun contented by whatever mischief it has just perpetrated, satisfied at a good nights work.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Lake #2 steely stares and a useful discovery

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.