It was all light hearted banter when we arrived and even as we set up there seemed an air of possibility about the venue. The place looked like a scaled down trout fishery carved by man into a small stream that serve to breath healthy life into those ever needy game fish. But there was no trout and I am sure if there was, Joe wouldn't have bothered chasing perch.
To me it looked about right, clean water bordered by reed fringed banks and supposedly stuffed with enough small silvers to turn any modest perch into the Perca fluviatilis version of Marlon Brando. It even started as I hoped with a timely enough pause after I deposited chopped worm at the bottom of the marginal shelf, followed by three deliberate bites. The first produced nothing, the second a nice roach and the third a maybe six ounce perch which really got me going. Then nothing, and I mean nothing! Every trick in our collective repertoire was employed before we all concluded it would be dusk before we saw any more bites.
My sarnies were gone when discord spread through the ranks and before the clock struck one, we were away hoping to make better of the light we had left on pastures new. The car seats had barely time to warm before we were descending a winding drive into a valley towards a small lake nestled near the bottom of the hillside.
I think we all knew time was at a premium as the dark would be encroaching around four. Although I had never wet a line in this pool I had heard from a at least two others that although diminutive in size, the stock of fish in this lake borders on obscene. In fact the exact words someone used the other day was "It boils with fish in the summer". Apparently should you sling a gallon of maggots into the water on warmer months it would be doubtful if one would make it to the bottom, there is that many veracious roach and rudd present. But that's in the summer and we were here pretty much as far away from summer as you can get.
After a punishing morning on the previous fishery I for one had got to that point where it was bites and not targets that I wanted. So with Martin and Joe on the opposite bank, I set up on a small point swim casting a ledgered lob worm down the bank a few rods out, before concentrating my efforts and what was left of my chopped worm on a spot just on the edge of the ripple where I would hope a perch might patrol.
The reported levels of stock turned out to be entirely true and it was my ledgered worm which first got sucked up before my super sensitive rod tip bent round and it began. The last three hours of the day saw pretty much constant action, but I have to say that I was not exactly using roach tactics. Anyone who has ever seen my perch rig I think will agree when I say it's a little agricultural in design; four pound line straight through to a size four hook with nothing more than a string of BB shot and chubber float in between, and the ledger set up only differs with a lack of float really. All that aside the roach were loving my worms and even missing loads of bites I was still landing some immaculate fish from six ounces right up and over a pound in weight.
But it was never to be on this occasion and all too soon the sun sank over the valley and we soon found ourselves straining to see the orange floats in the dank light. I certainly can't say I was disappointed by the second fishery at least and as for that first one I feel sure that too might have some mileage in better conditions. That valley pool really stuck a little hook in me and I fancy I will find myself back on its bank once winter has passed.