What is there to say that hasn't already been said or should that be what is there you can write that hasn't been written. It's always going to be the case when you get get a gathering of angling bloggers all fishing together in one place, on one day, for one species, in honour of one chaps entrance into this world that you get several different perspectives on the day. Personally, I for one love to read all these different aspects of a session as it gives different perspectives. It's like eating a great meal repeatedly over and over again and discovering something new each time.
I think although we were gathered for one main reason everyone had their individual aspirations for the day. For some of the lads who had travelled quite far it was a chance to fish for a species which is not normally that accessible to them. For others they just wanted to get into the zeds on a new bit of cut. For me though being both native to the area and regularly fishing it for the species in question, it was more of a chance to meet up with people whose blogs I follow avidly and have a good old chin wag whilst maybe catching a zander or two. It was a bit of a trip up memory lane as well for me as I not only grew up fishing just down the canal a bit, but also reacquainted myself with rod and line again here after a five year break from fishing when snogging girls was more appealing than sitting on a dog turd riddled tow path.
After arriving a little early I took the opportunity to have a wander down to a place where me and my old pal pinky used to get sun burnt, blank and occasionally even catch a few fish. It was on my way back that I came across Mick also looking wistfully at the water wanting to get going. Soon enough the muster began as friends old and new arrived. As I have experienced before I got a bit of a surprise when meeting some of the people whose blogs I've been following. Brian from Pike Blog was at least two feet taller than I ever thought he was and James from James' Angling Adventures seemed somewhat scaled down in real life. This isn't the first time I have encountered this strange blog-related size distortion. I thought Lee Fletcher from This Angling Life was a giant until we first met and I realized has most certainly was not the giant I expected (sorry Lee). Now this angling blog size distortion phenomenon has me reassessing how big everyone whose blog I read is and thinking truly how big is the Sweet Corn Kid? Or is Dave Burr really the Viking I expect him to be?
We did eventually form up and trickle out after the handshakes and hellos were done knowing there would be time for chatting on the bank and in the pub once cold and dark had forced a retreat. We filtered out in all directions rods in hand and the hope of submerging floats in our hearts. Actually although I did have a back up dead bait rod with me I thought this was a perfect opportunity to see how my method of the moment, walking the worm on a drop shot rig, stood up against an array of dead baits being fished all over the area.
I ended up heading down the Coventry with Keith as generally for some odd reason I don't really get on with the Oxford canal, that and I had been fishing on the Coventry cut the last few weeks and I knew that the clarity was good for what I wanted to do. My first swim was a narrowing point by a huge reed bed and after depositing a few broken worms onto a spot and jiggling the worm around over them for half an hour I struck into a small zander of maybe half a pound. Another half an hour later and a missed run on the float fished dead bait and I was on the move back towards Keith. In my next spot I was rewarded with a small perch then after constantly working the area I got the strange urge to go back my first spot and I was glad I did.
First drop in and I barely had chance to lift the rod a couple of times before I hooked a decent fish which powered angrily around under the bent rod. I don't know whether it was the good visibility in the water or my position over the fish but I got a real treat by way of a full view of a very angry zander fighting me under the water. Really and truthfully the fish looked so cool flaring its gills, shaking its head and zig zagging around that I know that memory will stay with me forever. After a bit of a fuss where I realized my net was at the opposite end of a moored boat and assistance was needed, the fish eventually found itself in the folds of the net where it was no less angry than it was in the water.
Not long after that I moved again up close to Joe Chatterton of Joe Chatterton's Angling Diary and after seeking permission to linger on the edge of his swim fishing the margin I dug in until dusk. My dead bait did absolutely nothing, but thank god I persisted in constantly walking the worm round on a area I kept topped up with chopped up worms. In the few hours that I stood chatting to Joe I landed another three small zander, bumped off a couple more and lost what both me and James thought was a big perch.
Knowing the temperature was always going to fall dramatically combined with the knowledge of a open fire in the Greyhound pub always meant there was going to be a rather strong force pulling us back down the tow path. For my part the novelty of having a pint of Bass in one hand and a drop shot rod in the other only lasted as long as the pint of beer did and all too soon myself, Keith and Joe were slinging tackle in cars and heading in from the dark.
Everyone else soon arrived in spits and spats lured back to the warmth of the pub and cold beer. It was high spirits all round as the beer flowed and laughter emanated from our boisterous bar blocking group. It was really great seeing friends I haven't seen in a while and meeting some new ones and happily we landed a few zander between us which after all was at least half the point of the gathering. As for the other I wasn't sure if I actually congratulated Jeff on his what I think was his fifty-third birthday, so if not the perfect way to end this is by saying congratulations, Happy Birthday Jeff and I can't wait for zanderfest 54 next year..