Picture if you will a classical English summer morning. The sun creeps up over old England spreading its warm rays over the golden fields of wheat; Pheasants call from the hawthorn hedgerows and young rabbits nibble the dew ridden grass. In front of you the sparkling pool glistens in the early light as swallows skim the surface stealing a drink on the wing. The smell of the new day fills your senses with the multicoloured scent of skunk weed drifting across the water and then the moment of silence is shattered by the shrill sound of twenty cheap bite alarms screeching, as what seems like a million ravenous carp attempt to cram food in there ever opening mouths.
Yes the other day I went back to Area 51 to fish for sturgeon! Was it not for a strange interest I have developed in these prehistoric beasts, my god, I would not force myself to fish on a commercial pool. But as they only exist in a few places locally and I cannot afford a trip to Canada to fish the mighty Frazier river for wild fish, then this is what I must endure.
I've wanted to fish for them for a while, but like everyone else I have little time and everything must wait its turn. I'd been stock piling tins of luncheon meat for a while in anticipation of this trip and I had to, as on my last visit the four tins I took were hardly enough. This time I had had a good three pounds of matchbox size cubes dusted overnight in krill powder as bait.
Part of my wanting to come back here and fish for sturgeon was that I quite fancied fishing for them on the float. On my last visit it seemed rather stupid fishing 3lb test rods with bolt rigs on alarms when the fish were noticeably circling under the rods. It wasn't till the night before that I stood looking at a box full of end tackle that I came up with what I can only describe the ugliest float rig known to angling; Twelve pound main line and a couple of feet of safety tubing to protect the fish to start with; a small coffin lead for weight, a buffer bead to protect the swivel, then a hook link made up of 35lb braid and huge size 2 hook with a 2" hair and some fake corn to help keep the meat on. For bite registration the most high tech component, a home painted bit of peacock quill.
I opted to fish a corner swim at the entrance of a bay. Although the bay was stupidly shallow there, I knew from a previous visit that a ledge where the water dropped off went across the entire front of the bay and that the sturgeon and their ever circling movement would more than likely keep to. It turned out to be the perfect distance to just swing out the bait using my 9ft Nash dwarf carp rod.
I'd set my float well over depth as I wasn't looking for roach bites. In truth sturgeon aren't the most finicky of feeders and all the bites I have ever had have seemed like something big and stupid making off steadily with your bait, as was the case only moments after casting out, when my float drifted from left to right before sliding away attached to the first one of the day. Somewhere between me striking and landing the fish, a small munchkin turned up behind me silently from a nearby bivvy and the moment I put the small diamond back down on the mat this little voice pipes up, "I caught that one yesterday."
With my new companion rattling away I tried my best to get some photos as I was regaled with how he had caught it. Even as I released it back to the murky water the commentary continued with the location of his capture and where he'd let it go. Turned out my shadow was now quite interested and for the next half an hour my new friend, Leyland, fired a barrage of questions at me including some real corkers like; Can ducks hear? (Yes!) How come fish can't swim on land? (Because they have evolved to live in water!) Can carp see? (Yes that's why they have eyes!) Do you like hot dogs? (I am partial to a hot dog as long as it has fried onions and mustard on it!)
To be honest I was relieved when a second sturgeon took my bait and I got a break from the questions as I played the fish. Although he never claimed to have caught this one, apparently his uncle had a few months prior for sure. Once I'd netted the fish and unhooked, Leyland very kindly offered to take a picture of me holding the fish. I did have to think about that for a minute as I didn't fancy chasing a kid around the lake once he'd done one with my mobile phone, but as his dad was camped out in the next swim I thought I would be OK. Stupidly I asked if knew how to use a camera phone to which replied with disgust, yes! Though this was the best shot!
Not long after this the scent of bacon lured my little munchkin companion back to his camp and peace was restored, or a least a relative peace to this pool anyway. Ten minutes later with a bacon batch in hand he was back and nattering away in my ear. After talking constantly whilst eating, a large flock of geese caught his eye and before I could say no, he threw the last of his batch about ten feet away from where I was fishing, which as you can guess prompted nearly fifty geese into my swim before he casually left.
Now, there has been large element of this trip that I have so far ignored and that element can be described in two simple words, hungry carp! Most of my session I managed to avoid the carp. I say avoid but what I mean is not catch any. Although it must be said that they weren't avoiding me, and my krill flavoured luncheon meat was mostly being eaten by the carp. Their sucking and pecking was going through my massive bag full of meat at an alarming rate. Quite how none of them were getting hooked was beyond me as so many of them were resident in my swim. I even took to feeding a couple of tins of cheap sweet corn a little down the bank to try and focus them elsewhere, but in the end there was so many that I couldn't keep them away. But for all the attention I only hooked one single carp which went bat shit crazy ploughing into the bay and making right old fuss in the shallow water.
I never did hook into one of those big Siberian sturgeon I was after, but that's not to say they weren't on the feed. Simply put, I think they just weren't getting round to me as there was some many other anglers fishing and so much bait going in. Several were caught around the lake by other anglers, two of which were over twenty pounds and one of them was closer to thirty. The catch of the day had to go to rather hungover looking chap who out of the blue hooked a fish which led him a merry dance through quite few swims. After an epic tussle it turned out he'd hooked and landed a near forty pound catfish on a zig rig.
Given that I really was ready to leave once the carp had done me out of bait, I still intend to come back for a second go for those big grey giants in this pool. Though I think I might wait until later in the year and probably a weekday so as it might be a little quieter on the banks around this pool full of monsters.