Just lately I've been a little more reserved when out fishing. Previously I would charge forth into the dark, desperate to get on a particular swim to execute my preconceived plan. Now I am in no doubt that this gung-ho attitude has paid me back in spades, but I am also sure that in doing so I have passed a million roses I should have stopped to smell, if you get what I mean. Maybe it's an impending change in my life that has done it, but I have inadvertently begun to appreciate things a little more lately.
This 16th for example was far more sedate than normal and certainly ended up being a little more satisfying than its predecessors. Though I must say that having an entire estate lake to myself might well have added to my Zen-like state as I ambled leisurely along its banks and wandered through its wood pondering a cast here or there.
I've never seen this particular lake in its full June glory and I must admit it was a total shock. Through the autumn and winter the lake itself seems practically barren against the outlandish Gothic back drop. Now though in the summer, the lily festooned pool makes the Capability Brown bridge seem almost dowdy and no angler in their right mind could focus on the stone work, when from beyond peeps siren like lily pads floating on what must be fish laden water.
Even in my relaxed state there was still bit of a fly in my ointment, by way of the poor clarity of this normally gin clear water. The previous weeks deluge had filled the stream that fed the lake full of mucky water and I had the distinct feeling that this would prove detrimental to pulling a few lures around, as the pike in this pool are definitely sight hunters. Even with enough time for the rivers and the stream that feeds this pool to clear, the main body of the lake was stained by the murk suspended in the water. Maybe a week or two later it would have cleared, but for this June 16th at least it would seem I was going to have to make do. But! Saying that it's not that hard to make do with a place like this.
Initially I did actually sit for a while under the leaves of an acorn tree and cast a worm alongside a small patch of lily pads where I'd seen what I was convinced were tench bubbles rising. Two bream and nice roach later, the early cloud had burnt away and with it any chance of hooking a virgin tench. Not long later I sat on a bench which gives an impressive vista of the water and pondered...
I was not in a rush and not inclined to frantically chase after anything, so instead I sat and watched. With little more than birds and trees to distract me I watched the water and quickly what was going in the muddy water became clear. Directly in front of me a small predator, either a tiny jack or angry perch was chasing fry in the shallows. Towards the centre of the lake a huge shoal of rudd or roach lipped away at the surface, scattering every time the shadow of a bird passed over. Up at the place where river entered the lake and ran clearer I could see fish scattering every now and again, indicating that pike were held up there and that was probably where I should fish. Time and time again the fish broke the surface, scattering out of the water to try and escape. I must have watched from up the lake for ages before my trance was broken by the wondrous sight of a huge forgotten golden carp leaping from the water. I knew there was carp in this pool, but never suspected them to grow quite so large given its shallow depth.
I stalked round trying to spot that carp in the muddy water, but the lack of visibility hid it very well. In the end I found myself peering into the pads at the top of the lake where loads of pike were hanging under the pads in the shade. First cast with a small silver diving plug and the water erupted as a jack swiped at the lure, missing by inches. Next cast got hit by a different fish which barely weighed more than the lure. After combing around a bit I got a savage hit just as the lure wiggled by a small weed bed. This fish though only a little bigger, went mental, clearing the entire swim of fish as it did.
I suppose it might sound odd, but at this point I walked away, and by walked away I mean, I went home. Previously on the first day of the season I've been out before sun up and home after sun down and truthfully I have felt burnt out by lunch time. Not on this occasion though! After stopping off to have a look at the river at a few stretches on the way back I went home had a civilized meal, shower and hung out with JB until the sun got low in the sky. Refreshed mentally and physically I then spent the rest of the day catching loads perch on the Oxford canal just to fill my soul with even more first day joy. And as if to end the day on a perfect note a big old Sargent snatched my chartreuse paddler grub as it dropped back to bottom on what was to be my last cast of the first day.