Thursday, 20 November 2014

Strange but true.

Gagging! That is a good way to describe it. I was gagging to get back to the rediscovered feature I had found previously. My mind had been working overtime in the few days that had passed since I had fished it, all the information collected both past and present had bubbled away and distilled in the cauldron that is my mind; the result as far I was concerned, was nothing less than endless possibilities.

The dark and its ability to coerce the shy to feed attracted me so I was always going to do a short night session, and what better accessory to lurk in the bank of the Coventry cut with on a weekday night than a Jeff Hatt. I mean what self respecting canal angler is seen on the Coventry without a Jeff Hatt nowadays.

It was mid-week before I was back and I'd been through the mill thinking how I wanted to fish it again. There was no doubt worms would be involved as well as dead baits, but how to fish those worms was the quandary. The reason for my confusion was the confirmation of the presence of that relative canal rarity the chub, and big ones from what I'd heard on the tribal drums. I didn't fancy fishing a light float rig at night and the thought of using an alarm to try and catch a canal chub left me feeling a little dirty. In the end it just seemed perversely logical to fish a river method on a canal. So I cracked out the Avon quiver and set up a small link ledger rig and strapped on the old tip light.

We hadn't even got to the spot in the dark before I dropped a clanger. As we left the parked car a man passed us eating a bag of chips. Walking at a brisk pace keen to get fishing we caught him up as he turned onto the canal. I kind of forgot he was walking in front of us as we tracked the wet tow path and I spotted a row of moored narrow boats. Spontaneously I broke in a serious bout of verbal diarrhoea proclaiming that I bet one of these darn boats was parked right in front of the spot. I carried on spewing  profanities all the way down the tow path working myself into a slight fervour as I did. Then when I spotted a boat in the distance I really went for it. It was about then that the now forgotten man who wasn't far in front of me turned and in a slightly annoyed tone proclaimed it was his boat! eep...

Luckily for all parties he wasn't moored exactly on the spot and after settling right at the bow of his boat he went about choking us with diesel fumes and we went about fishing. Both me and Jeff had our little moments in the dark trying to ready rigs. Soon enough though we had lit up floats bobbing around on the canal and illuminated tips floating in the air.

Put in simple terms it went mental from the off! Jeff barely had his ledger rod out before my tip got yanked round. I was flapping round playing what felt like decent fish in the dark. It wasn't battering me like I thought a chub would but I did get a glimpse of subtle gold in the dark. Jeff got it in the net in the light of his head light and we both peered into the net to see a relatively large roach bream hybrid.

More roach than bream I think.

Then on the way back from releasing my capture away from our swim Jeff informed me of my dancing dead bait float, from then on out it went mental. I landed a decent schoolie zander and by the time I'd unhooked and relocated it, Jeff's swim had erupted in a flurry of runs.

Honestly I thought this was going to be the zander session of a lifetime for us both and that it would work its way into some sort of magnificent crescendo involving at least one personal best for one of us. That was until the arse fell out of the session when the rumble of the narrow boats engines stopped and the runs evaporated. It did take a while for us to associate the two together, but after it had sunk in the strange theory that the fishes feeding was somehow intertwined with the rumble of the diesel powered combustion engine did seem correct.

The session went so bad that after an hour or two of lip flapping and chin wagging we called an end to it as we really did seem to be lurking around in the dark for nothing and I for one who had come straight from work, was starving.

My next strange encounter came a few days later. After possibly the most productive Saturday ever, where I not only completed a shopping trip with JB, visited a garden centre and traversed a large proportion of Warwickshire to complete a couple of chores from my Nan I found myself thinking that I could eek out a little more of the day and snatch a witching hour session on a nearby bit of canal.

Fifteen minutes later I was pulling into a secluded canal car park hoping not to have to interact with any doggers that might be out for a bit of Saturday night amusement. Truly I don't know why  had gone back to this section of cut as it has about as good a reputation for predator fishing as the average puddle in the street. Why it should be so bad is beyond me as it's got loads of prey fish, plenty of cover and a growing population of crayfish as well. 

Anyway I keep trying here now and again in a vain hope it might come good and this short session seemed the perfect trip to waste on such an endeavour. I only had my drop shot rod, net and back pack with me so as I could keep on the move. My plan, if I had one, was to keep myself in good vantage points of the canal as dusk crept in and that if I saw any topping prey fish I would home in on them thinking that any predator might also do so.

Sure enough it worked, in a way... Quite early on I spotted three fish top in one area, then as I approached, two more flickered above the water sending ripples across the flat surface. I concentrated flicking some new micro glow in the dark lures all around the canal working the area systemically as all the books say you should. 

Soon enough the dark was not far off and I made a snap decision to switch over to walking the worm. I thought the added scent of the broken worm might become key as the visibility dwindled. So I slowly began creeping a large worm around the trench of the canal. I must of been at it for half an hour before I got any reaction. By now it was totally dark, and I mean countryside dark not that close to the city dark, so I could barely see a thing. I was trying to pinpoint the location of a warbling pheasant in the trees over the canal when I felt a definite tap come back up the braided line. I slowed the retrieve down and kept the bait moving and sure enough I got a second tap. But nothing took the bait after that so I swung the rig along the approximate line of the last cast and began again. I felt another tap and was itching to strike when I hit the forth.

The fish shot around in the dark and naturally I attributed this keen fight to a small zander. I even saw a flash of silver when I flicked my head torch on to land it. When I finally stooped to net the fish I got the shock of my life as I was confronted not by a juvenile zander but instead by a big old roach with my huge drop shot hook undoubtedly hooked through its top lip.

I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing as I laid what looked like a possibly a pound of roach down on the long damp grass. It wasn't a youngster either as far as I could tell from the general wear and tear on its body, so naivety was no explanation for it grabbing my moving worm. This dog of an old roach had in no uncertain term attacked my drop shot fished lob worm.

Ever since catching that fish I've tried to reason and explain what happened there, and about the best I can come up with was that it was a one off where me fishing what is favourite roach bait on a snail pace retrieve, combined with the dark related over confidence and hunger, caused that fish to think 'I ain't letting that big old juicy worm get away!'. I have to think this or I will feel that all those hours I've spent reading about the delicate feeding roach were a total waste of my time.

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