Thursday, 26 June 2014

The lake #25 Oh how I hath waited

I've felt rather in limbo for a month or more prior to the bell tolling on a new fishing season as I suppose many of us do. It's not that I haven't fished either as I have been enjoying fishing a rediscovered water and doing quite well conditions considered. Though what I have been doing in some ways could be described as filling time, and in all honesty as I have fished one water I have been betraying it by thinking of another as I did.

The lake has weighed heavy on my mind for the longest time you see. Not many hours have passed since winter faded away that I haven't thought of it. In quiet times when my mind has been set free by some arduous and repetitive task I have allowed my self to slip full-on into dreams of it. The odd thing is although I am motivated by the fish it holds, it is more the lake itself which draws me in. Even thought I have walked its banks since I was a child, it is these last few years that I felt myself becoming more entwined with it.

I suppose its this magnetic attraction that seems to have developed, combined with my insatiable need to get to know it all over again this year, that inspired my plan for the start of this season. It must have been March when I conceived to spend the opening day there. Then with that decided I concluded, why not go the day before and spend the night, which naturally morphed into a couple of days and nights. And that was it, my season was to open with fifty or more hours in the company of Coombe pool.

Even with plenty of planning and forward thought I really had little idea of where I might fish, and after last years debacle of there only being one free peg on the grassy sea of the Lindley bank, that wasn't probably a bad thing. The day had finally arrived and after a whistle stop father's day morning run I loaded up with a few days worth of provisions, shelters, sleeping bags and the all important fishing tackle then made the short journey which I knew I would be making many more times these coming months.

As always that first look over the grassy slope that leads down to the secluded bank was mouth watering. Unusually though there seemed to be a general lack of anglers frequenting the reed lined pegs. Being as the first day of the season this year fell on a Monday rather than a Sunday, the mob that descended last year had obviously not turned up or possibly the general low capture ratio had maybe deterred those naive enough to think this is a runs water.

Having already had a bit of a wander round a few nights before I was well aware that the previous weeks rain had coloured up the main lake somewhat, and that the mild winter just passed had not been bad enough to curtail the weed, which is rampant in some areas of the lake. The little amount of info I already possessed was pointing me towards a bend in the private bank where the coloured water of the main lake and the clearer water meet, and also where the weed thins.

I settled for a familiar spot that has in the past been the sight of a few big hits for me. The great thing about this area is that it by just walking a couple of pegs either side you get a full view of the lake and as this session was as much about finding out what was going on as it was fishing, this spot seemed the perfect place to set camp.

It's quite odd really getting all set up, pitching camp and then having to sit behind rods that are ready to do what they are made for and having to wait seven hours to cast out. This time however did give me ample opportunity to cast a light lead around and garner a better picture of the underwater landscape in front of me. Bar a few random tufts of weed there was only one serious weed bed in the sea of silt in front of me

After pinpointing a spot I liked better than all the very other similar areas and drinking several cups of tea with my nearest neighbour, I made my move to bait up. I had been out the corner of my eye watching and waiting for the resident wildfowl population to do one. With the last of the sneaky tufted ducks forced away with a few trial casts of my mini spomb I went about spreading a few kilos of pellet, crushed boilies, hemp and chopped boilies around a reasonable sized area. I really wanted to imitate random balls of ground bait so instead of just filling up the spomb with loose bait and creating a carpet. So I squeezed each load into a ball before putting inside the little white rocket.

Then it became a case of waiting and waiting. With no baited lines in the water I was free to mooch around as I liked and in several swims I watched patches of wonderful tench fizz rise to the top. In another swim a shoal of roach the size of a tennis court moved back and forth on the surface changing direction every time a jack pike struck from beneath. In my own swim I watched as a couple of bream rolled off my bait just as the sun dipped behind the trees. It was the thought of those rolling fish that I had running through my mind as I curled up in my sleeping bag and watched the sky go from blue to purple through the door of my shelter.

Even though I wasn't expecting a lot it was only too easy to conjure the vision of a shoal of hump backed slabs cruising over my bait maybe with an odd tubby tench mixed in for good measure. Luckily for me the exertion of shoving my laden barrow over some of the roughest banks in the county helped me slip off for a few hours sleep before my alarm would wake me again ten minutes prior to midnight.

You would have thought with such a build up, all the weeks of planning and the general excitement that I would have been of of bed like a shot. Well that wasn't exactly the case! It was real struggle to get back up from my slumber in truth. Stumbling round in the dark with a savage case of morning mouth in the middle of the night I was glad I'd made the effort to get everything ready before settling down for a kip. My rods were clipped up so all I had to do was extract the hook links which had my baits attached from the glug, attach them to the quick clips and bait the method feeders. The memory of the cast were pretty much hard wired after making it so many times the day before. Both rods went out like a dream dead in line with my far bank markers and hitting the line clips just right. Not seconds after the last rod was in the rest and the buzzer switched on the kettle that I had set boiling prior to casting out began whistling. In the dark I sat watching the the lake through the dark sipping a brew on my bed. I knew nothing would occur straight off the bat but it seemed more than right to at least watch for a little while before retiring to bed. I fell asleep twice sitting up, tea in hand, so with the last of the tepid cuppa gone and the tawny owls hooting I turned on the my receiver and went back to sleep for a while.

It was an massive forty minutes before the red LED close to my head lit up and the stuttering bleep woke me. By the time I had slipped on my shoes something was slowly but surely taking line from the spool. My first fish of the 2014 season crossed the cord of my net at approximately twelve fifty and it looked just as shocked as I did by all accounts.

After the initial fish my night became a rather up and down affair and by that I mean every time I got a liner the receiver would sound and I would sit up in bed and wait for a few minutes waiting for a fish toddle off, which it didn't, and then I'd lie back down a fall asleep immediately. Out of the stack of liners I had between one and four in the morning I was agog that I only landed one other bream.

If I described the night as perplexing than the day I could refer to as barren. Once the sun hit the sky the liners stopped and all activity ceased. The only thing moving anywhere on the lake was the huge shoal of roach which had divided up into several smaller shoal which now danced around all over the surface with predators in tow.

 Knowing there would be no action through the day it was nice to have some company by way of  a couple of carp anglers new to the lake. The day passed easily chatting out the pool and other waters as we supped copious amount of tea. It was on my way between my peg and the powwow that I encountered a small squirrel. I saw it shuffling around in the grass at first and then thought nothing of it. As I passed a second time I found it sitting eating what looked like field mushroom. Even with me standing gawking at it the obvious youngster didn't seem bothered by my presence. In fact I was able to go right up to within a few feet of it. Whether it was just a confident little fellow or whether it wasn't a mushroom but rather a toadstool with psychotropic effects, the little squiggy just stayed put and carried on munching his fungi. It was around all day searching out more fungi and soon enough we started calling him Jimi Hendrix because he really did seem to be in a bit of a purple haze.

Jimi Hendrix
Night two made night one look amazing and to be frank I got the distinct impression that even though I had waited till the quietest part of the day to top up my swim with a second barrage of bait, nothing seemed in residence at all. I woke in the early and still dark hours and recast just to make sure every thing was ok with my rigs. Then after that repeatedly recast every time I woke up. By breakfast time I was done with the swim! I knew if I carried on all flipping week long topping up the swim sooner or later a big hit of action would materialize, but two days in one spot was already to much for me.

I pondered what to do with my last ten hours on the bank as I ate breakfast over looking the lake. One of the new carp chaps who was fishing round the bank had left and having seen so much activity in his swim the night prior it seemed the perfect spot. The camp packed away I settled down in the dappled shade under the trees to fish off my barrow with just the bare essentials not packed up

As I wasn't fishing at range a small tree in the swim afforded me the rare opportunity of being able to see right into my swim went the sun was at the right angle. It was surprising to see that although my buzzers were quiet for the most part fish were actually regularly moving in and around my swim. I saw both bream and tench from my vantage point as they cruised past. But not one even stooped so much as a millimetre to investigate my free baits. Seeing those fish moving around around in the clear water served to confirm that fish in Coombe rarely feed out of the dusk till dawn period of the day.

My last afternoon on the lake was spent sitting on my unhooking mat leaning against a tree lost in the pages of a book, which truth be told is a much better way to spend a sunny afternoon rather than being at work. Even as I pondered the lack of action in the final twenty four hours I felt no ill feelings in relation to spending so much time by the lake as I had learnt so much about what, when and where. And now I was back involved with the lake I knew it would be that long until I was back to take full advantage of my new found knowledge.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A very special thing

I am by my own admission a heavy user of fishing tackle. Put it this way, it is not often that once finished with an item that it is afforded a second life via purchase or give-away. But I must say I am not an abuser of tackle either, it just that I choose the items I want carefully then fish them to death using them in a multitude of ways. Generally speaking what happens is the item of tackle becomes worn out over a prolonged period then it fails in some small way. It is then repaired a few times before I arrive at the decision that it has had it.

There is one exception though! One special item of tackle which I have cared for over all others since the day it came into my hands. Sixteen years ago to the day, I turned twenty one and on that day JB gave me a gift that was a fishing rod. Up until this point most of my gear I had been using was borrowed or very cheaply purchased and therefore was rough to say the least. This rod though was another thing. It was light, long and it came in a fancy bag.

It's not often that an item of tackle actually improves massively how you fish. Sure they make you feel extra confident and the like, but truthfully they don't make an epic difference in most cases. This rod however marked that step from rubbish gear to proper gear for me and hand on heart doubled my cast. If it wasn't for the water I was fishing I would have never known either. You see we were always were aiming to fish the very end of a huge lily bed that emanated from the public bank on Coombe pool. The whoosh that fibre glass and over-flexing carbon made would be all you'd hear from us on a Sunday morning as we tried to hit that sweet spot at the end of the pads. Then the first time I took a shot with my new Diawa tornado-Z thirteen foot match rod I literally cast past the end of the lily's and almost twice as far again. I can actually remember looking down at the rod and declaring my love there and then.

I just happened that Coombe pool was in a good phase that year and me and my new rod tore it limb from limb fishing wag and mag at the end of those pads. Every Sunday I would underarm four or more Jaffas of Van Den Eyned out into the lake. Then in between catapulting out gentles I would be casting and striking at the plethora of species that were attracted to the bait. Almost every week we'd fill a net with roach, perch and skimmers. Add to them the few slabs we would pinch and the occasional big perch or roach and we were in heaven.

Coombe shifted phases and I moved on with my faithful rod in tow. From commercials to the broads and right up natural streams high in the welsh mountains I fished them all with this rod. Carp, trout, pike and eels it seemed able to handle them all when they came along. It was me that changed though! My love of fishing grew and changed then other species demanded stronger tackle, then I wanted to catch bigger fish and that meant specialist tackle. All the time though this rod was hidden away back in it's fancy bag waiting for me to pick it up once again.... and I did.

After years ignored I needed float rod to trot for grayling and the super light Tornado came out of retirement. Our relationship was rekindled and with my new passion for fishing pole floats under rod tips for crucians and tench it seemed like it would never end and it didn't. Though now I am careful with this special thing and I find myself not risking it as much as I did in the early days and use it mainly for smaller species. Saying that you cant always choose what you catch, like last year when a rude near twenty pound carp snuffled up my bait intended for crucians. The Tornado proved it was well enough made and still in good enough condition to win that battle.

More recently I've been using it to pry some delicate feeding tench from a rediscovered water and it as always it never lets me down. Bending from butt to tip it seems to just absorb the violent runs whilst reminding that there is so much fun to be had with a light float rod rather than sitting behind buzzers propping up Avon style rods

It only seemed right that sixteen years after receiving it as a present I should find myself sitting fishing with it on my birthday. As I waited for the next soft biting tench to lift my float I sat back and remembered some of the wonderful fish, amazing places I've been and great times I have had with this rod. The memories I recalled were so cherished and made me so happy it actually bought me so much genuine joy that I had to contact JB and thank her again sixteen years later for buying me such a special thing.

And again, thank you JB :)