Considering the hours of my life I've spent staring at a float I wouldn't of thought it possible to forget just how much I love float fishing. A year of chucking lures though seems to have gone some way to making me forget, but easing myself gently back into to fishing without any arduous walking sessions has steered me back to this forgotten loves arms.
First came a very brief session where, to just get out, I ventured down to the closest bit of canal with a single short float rod rigged with a simple pole float, to ply worms down the nearside track whilst just enjoying being out again.
With a handful of brutally chopped yet wonderfully oozing worms as a carpet to attract... well anything, I swung a single writhing worm delicately onto the spot and sat back and enjoyed fishing again. It felt at the time like I had missed an entire season of the year, as when I was in hospital weeks ago spring was still stuttering along and now the banks that lined the Oxford canal were thick with greenery and the blossom of the hawthorn peppered the hedgerows white. With cold nights becoming a distant memory the perch population at least had settled into voracious summer feeding habits as well.
Not a few minutes went by without the delicate float dipping here and there as the hordes of little striped predators tugged at the wriggling worm. Now and again greed got the better of them and the float would sink away as one tried to escape its brethren with worm. Quite quickly I was amassing a respectable tally of pint sized predators and any passing match angler might have appreciated the session, seeing me plunder the normally frugal cut.
If I know one thing about fishing this method for perch it's that they generally get bigger as time progresses and it was exactly so on this occasion. After every deposit of feed the size of fish landed increased. The slew of fingerlings made way to a few hand sized fish, you know the ones that aren't quite big enough to dip the net for but put a worrying bend in the tip of your rod. Then as the bites slowed the bigger crew showed up and at close to a pound the net has to get deployed. When those fish disappear and the float holds fast above the film of the water you know there's a good chance a rouge monster is on the cards. When that bite came the little rod bent right round and a proper perch smashed round the canal furious at the price of it's free meal.
A couple of hours, a mess of small perch, a handful of bonus pounders to ice the session and a monster mother as the cherry on the top and I was done. It was the perfect way to get out fishing again and once again light the fire of my float fishing love.
With my mind still focused on the float I mulled over my next session, but it was news of change that led me to my next venue. I love Napton reservoir and when I stood freezing in the winter wind casting lures into it I dreamt of summer tench fishing there. Recently though things have changed and Coventry Angling Associations strangle hold on it has yielded and the news that Leamington Angling had obtained the rights to fish it emerged.
Now I will put it out there that I am yet to be convinced of whether this is a good or bad thing. On one hand Leamington really look after their venues and I have the utmost respect for this. BUT! They also have a habit of interfering with their waters in ways to make them a bit more... financially viable. I watched with trepidation as they turned Ryton pool from a wonderful wild tench water into a mini carp water with the random stocking of some questionable carp. Also they have a naughty habit of after a few years starting to ask for a small day ticket fee on top of the club membership under the guise of "restocking", which in reality seems to be a way to fill their already swollen coffers. All that aside, I want to fish Napton so a membership has been purchased to enable this to continue in the future.
If you've ever fished Napton you know it takes more time to get your seat level on those rocky banks than it does to set up all the rest of your gear set up and after settling down on the causeway facing out into the big half of the lake, I finally began the complex dotting down of my Drennan glow tip antenna float. I love to fish these floats with the last shot just off the bottom and it can be difficult to get it set just right so as when a fish bites the float works in both as a normal float would, going under, and as a lift float, which rises when a fish lifts that last shot. It's worth it though for the added sensitivity and on this occasion it proved a brilliant choice.
The tench and fish as a whole were being particularly shy and with eight other anglers up and down the bank from me literally I was the only one striking at fish. Most of the strikes came to very little but every now and again I connected with a nice perch in deep water, some of which were getting on for two pounds. Frankly where these perch were when I was lure chucking in the winter is a mystery, but show them a few casters and they were well up for it.
It wasn't the perch I was really after and in the end I struck into a solid fish which made me look a royal prat by charging straight into the only small reed bed nearby and getting away with a deft flick of its tail. I had to work very hard feeding small balls of ground bait and regular pouches of casters over the top to get my second swing at old red eye. After hitting a tiny rise on the float this one headed out into the lake like a flipping marlin, stripping line off the reel. A few changes in direction later and that one was off too. Sadly this can be the problem when fishing small hooks with tiny baits for powerful fish.
Looking back though I don't think the rod I was using helped me at all. Wanting a bit of back bone I'd dusted off my John Wilson Avon rod, but being as soft as it is and only eleven foot long it bounced around all over the shop in the brief tussles and didn't feel great at all. It was enough to send me grubbing around in some unused rods to find a fourteen foot power match I've got that needs a little repair, for future sessions when I will be back to settle the score with the green buggers in Napton Reservoir.