Everyone has important places in their lives, places that can be integral to who you become later in life. This is one of mine... I spent so much of my formative years fishing this small area of canal that I certainly got to know the bank side very well. I caught my very first perch sitting on a big square stone that I suspect is still buried under the patch of black berries at the bottom right hand corner of the photo. My first pike fell to a spinner cast towards the big hawthorn bush at the back of the pool. I suppose what makes this place such an important place is not what I caught here but is instead what happened here. This where I learnt to fish!
Standing in the quiet of the morning I could remember right back twenty five years ago to when I sat being scorched by the sun and when my old boot sale special float slid away and a small spiny perch came writhing towards me. Waiting for my lift I pondered what my twelve year old self would have thought if he would have known what I was going fishing for on this day. I reckon I would have peed my pants with either excitement or anxiety if my twelve year old self new what I was about to catch. Saying that even having done this before I still find it hardly believable myself now at thirty seven.
My lift turned up and soon enough we found ourselves walking round the well trimmed banks of the fishery I refer to as area 51. Being the sort of fishery it is, it's not like any one area is better than any other and this I suspect is down to the repetitive nature of our quarry. I won't claim to any kind of expert on sturgeon fishing, especially as I've only done it a handful of times myself. What I do know from watching them in ponds and on this lake is that they pretty much constantly swim round the perimeter of whatever pool they are in. Hence fishing is as surprisingly simple as fishing large cubes of meat close to the bank.
I say it's supposedly simple but I found myself in that uncomfortable situation where my companion for the day Andy landed one within the first half an hour then followed it up with three more before I even got off the mark. Although I am suspicious of whether what I had been doing made much difference or not, I had been filling my inside line in with pellets and repeatedly casting to an island margin hoping to sucker one of battle ships in but had not had any response from any kind of sturgeon.
To make matters worse I had what looked like a decent Diamond back constantly parading within a foot of the bank all morning. I did all I could and tried my very best to be patent. Why they seemed so nonchalant about my baits was becoming a worry and that when Andy being the gent he is offered me some of the vintage flavouring he was soaking his meat in. CLICK! Next cast with the new flavoured meat my right hand rod which I had also brought in close sprang to life. Straight away in the shallow margin I spotted a very familiar tail. That meat had only done the trick and attracted that dam diamond back straight onto my bait.
It was mid-afternoon before I had any more action. All day long we had been watching the pools resident carp population going berserk on any free bait we threw in. Even on a man-made lake such as this seeing the individual clouds of mud pepper the surface as hundreds of carp hovered up anything food. It was during one of these fits of carp frenzy that I a big grey tail broke the surface of the water. I hardly had enough time to state it was heading for my bait when the rod tip buckled round and the buzzer sang the alarm.
What I think sturgeon lack in cunning they certainly make up for with shear power. Before I had chance to wind down the free spool it was off. I was just glad it was only us fishing in the area as this warrior of a fish smashed around the margins turning both our swims chocolate brown.
Eventually I got it under control and into the net. It lookedto be a good fish. However it wasn't until we go it onto the matt and out of the net that something became evident. It looked suspiciously like Andy's first fish. A small but distinctive cut on the front dorsal fin was the main clue. But on the scales it weighed exactly the same. The weird thing was with this recapture was that when Andy hooked it first thing it fought like a wet sack and after only circling once went straight in the net. Whereas when I hooked it, it went ape. After realising it was the same fish it dawned on us both that we now had the same PB on the same fish!
Two days later I had myself a very early start and nipped over to fish a lake I haven't fished on in well over a year. I've been hearing reports that the tench had woken up and I seemed the right time to check and see what was going on. I arrived shortly after first light and found only one other angler already there. With practically all the lake free I was a bit spoilt for choice, but soon enough I settled onto a nice reed lined swim with the wind moving across it.
On most places my tench fishing is centred around ground bait, on this lake though I have had more luck fishing maggots in the past and so my attack was based on previous experience. To cut a long story short it was not an easy morning. Although the small resident perch of this lake seemed rather enamoured by my bait I struggled to find the tench. It wasn't until I deliberately increased my casting/feeding that I managed to hook into a small but excited male.
Seeing the upped feed rate seemed to have garnered a response I continued in the same vain until finally I hooked a bigger fish. This one ran me ragged diving into every possible bit of weed within thirty feet of my swim. For a heart stopping moment it did get pretty well weeded up. But by keeping the tension on it I gradually persuaded it out and into my waiting net. Given the clear water of this venue the colour of this chunky six pounder looked amazing and certainly made all the effort it took to catch her worthwhile.
Even though the fish was in spanking condition one thing is a bit of a worry. The missing section of tail looked very fresh and worryingly like a bite or tear. There was even evidence of scratches on the other side of the wrist in the fishes scales. Unluckily this pool sits adjacent to another water coarse that is certain to have otters prowling its banks and although I've only just gone back and can't be sure, there seems a chance there may be something else after these stunning tench other than anglers.