Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A colourful birthday slapping.

Over the weekend I turned thirty six and it being my birthday all ideas of me doing any chores or DIY were summarily nullified. As per normal when asked by my better half, family and friends what I wanted to do for my birthday I responded with, 'I want to go fishing'. As no one was really going to question me on my birthday it seemed I was free to do exactly as I wanted, and given it was a bit of a nice weekend with a bank holiday at the end, it seemed it had a chance to turn into an impromptu fish-fest.

So after fulfilling my bill paying duties on Saturday morning I grabbed my ready-prepared gear and headed off into the Warwickshire wilderness to stalk some carp on my friends quiet woodland lake. Though I did have to make a stop on the way to pick up a prize which I found out I had won only a few days ago. 
Any regular readers of this blog might remember last year I spent a large part of my summer fishing a venue I referred to as 'the lake' and for those who had not put two and two together already, the lake to which I referred to was Coombe pool fishery. I was lucky enough to win a free season ticket with one of my huge catches of bream that was topped off by a 10.2lb specimen. Prior to this revelation I really was unsure if I was going to return to Coombe after a successful season last year. But this prize has decided that for me and now ticket in hand I find myself planning for those sleepless slimy nights of bream fishing, and for the amazing dawns when the promise of big tench is almost too much to bear.

After finally leaving the bank holiday weekend meleé of Coombe country park, a short journey found me in the pure peace and quiet well away from the throngs. From the path leading down through the coppice I could already sight a few dark shapes cruising in the afternoon sun. Unusually the fish on the surface were not in the dream state they are often found in here in mid afternoon, and were in fact quite twitchy. It only took one lap of the lake  before a viable candidate was located two feet out from the bank browsing along a small reed bed. 

A cast was made and as if sticking to the script, the fish slowly drifted toward my sinking free lined bread,sucking it in and blowing it out in one deft movement before moving off. I tracked it down the bank to where I found it now only inches under the surface close to a small willow tree. This time a floating bit of crust seemed more appropriate. But after casting it over the fishes head and drawing it close, the fish clocked my ruse and slid away. Only moments later as I waited hoping the target might resurface right under my bait I spotted a chunky fish moving very confidently in the direction of my bait. There was no doubt about the outcome of this encounter! A mouth opened, the rod bent and the pin screamed as it made a very impressive run right across the lake.

This fish fought so hard I did wonder if it had some barbel in its lineage. When I finally slipped the net under it the solid common had a tail which stretched out was as big as the widest bit of the fish, which explained the insane fight that had left my thumb cramped from breaking the pin.

Four or five more fish were landed before they all seemed to disappear off the top. After spotting a disturbance over in a shady bank I moved up on them using the knee high nettles and shadows of the trees to mask my approach. This enabled me to stand only feet away from the fish as the patrolled along a lily bed between me and them.

Most of the moving carp seemed to look like other things might soon be on their mind, but just in the lillies to my right I spotted a very odd face poking from under the pads. It did look like this fish was in that hot summers day trance they get in, but it did seem a viable mark. I hooked on a tiny bit of crust no bigger than my thumb nail and lowered it onto the surface about a foot away so the slight tow would carry it into position. It worked a treat; the crust drifted naturally into place and after flaring its nostrils the fish moved ever so slowly to meet it. The suction was so slight the bread span round on the nose of the fish without going in. Then it seemed to hold it just in its lips for a ages before finally sucking it in.

Whether my strike was to light or whether it was too deep in its comatose world to know what was going on I could not exactly say. It just swam very obediently into my waiting net. I remember thinking that was very odd then as I lifted the net it suddenly woke up and went berserk trying to swim off in the net. Eventually I did manage to calm it down enough as to dare to try and get a photo as it was well worth a snapshot.

The fish had other ideas though, and I had to show this series of shots my friend Rob took of me getting a good old birthday slapping as the fish tried to do one over my shoulder into the undergrowth.

It's a bit wriggly!
Oh god it's trying to get over my shoulder!
Now it's vibrating like mad!
Both of us calm again!

The next day saw me heading off tench fishing to a local lake which is normally very good to me. All too often I find myself sitting behind buzzers waiting for my rig to do the business for me. Today though I had a load of maggot as bait and had also dusted of a fourteen foot power waggler rod which I wanted to see was in working order for a trip later in the week.

So unusually I found myself sitting tight to the bank regularly firing maggots at my black topped crystal waggler which sat statue like about three rod lengths out. As romantic of a session as I wanted to be, it turned out to nothing of the sort and I was forced to sit watching tench fizz appearing randomly around my swim as my float did nothing whilst other anglers down the bank managed to land a few using methods I would normally use. This Sunday session ended up being a total write off for me even though I knew there was feeding fish in my swim they seemed rather reluctant to take any of the baits I was offering.

The next day I had a score to settle and after chucking the float gear away and tooling up with my normal two rod long range kit I went back to find a wonderful breeze whipping up the surface of the lake. On still days you can spot the feeding fish on this venue, but on windy days they get their heads down in a big way as I was about to see once again.

I had only been cast out ten minutes when Baz turned up in the car park before coming down my way to see if the swim he was after was free. Then as he walked past me rushing back to get his gear my right hand rod jerk into life. The stuttering run ended in nothing, but then as I recast that rod the splash of the feeder caused another fish to bolt through my other line causing a screamer on my other rod that too ended in nothing.

When I had finally got both rods recast and Baz had also got settled in I popped over for a quick word. This inevitably ended up in me doing a sprint back as my one of my rods again melted off attached to this lovely gal.

Up until about eleven it was pretty regular action for me as most casts got some attention within twenty minutes. Four more tench hit the net and another found freedom in the shallows to my right after performing a spectacular kiting run. A small carp pulled exactly the same trick on me to by also flying into the bank where I found myself playing a fish on forty plus feet of line only three feet form the bank.

After my action piped down news reached me that Baz had just landed a mid double common which he was just setting free when I arrived. Not wanting to be away from my rods too long I made a comment I knew Baz was waiting for... The last time I told him I thought it was only a mater of time before he landed a good one from this lake, he landed a twenty plus fish! And after uttering some similar words you will never guess what happened!!!

Yes he landed another one and this time it was a spectacular twenty pound six ounce Ghost common which I was lucky enough to get to photograph for him. He was buzzing as we got some cracking shots of this rarely caught fish which he really deserved to catch.

What away to end a fish-filled birthday weekend, by seeing this wonderful fish fall to one of my friends. Three sessions in three days and a load of cracking fish crossing the cord... I reckon I could get used to this and it almost makes me want my birthday to come round quicker if it wasn't for the fact I don't want to wish my life away, as there are not enough hours in one life time for me to go fishing.


  1. You never said it was your Birthday old chap .....

    Belated happy birthday ......

    Usain Bolt!!!!

    Great photo and write up as well .



  2. More like Alan wells mate ;)

    That picture was a cracker and I am glad you like it. I will email you a copy of it later in the week.