As mentioned in the last blog this has been a hectic 9 days with my fishing covering four venues and something like 680 miles. Very mixed results, mostly poor with an occasional highlight to brighten the days and make the trips and effort worthwhile. This period is probably typical my of fishing in that although the angling writers tend to miss out their blanks they do all have them in equal amounts to myself. Right then, let’s look at the detail of those nine days and see what came to the rods.
Monday 9th I set out in the afternoon to go down to the Colne Valley pit where I do my bream fishing. I intended to fish for two nights and then move onto the next venue but I always leave the door open for a change of plans just in case the fishing comes alive and I feel I must maximise the chance. No need to worry about that since yet again the bream failed to show. Terry Lampard joined me for a couple of nights, fishing a different area of the 100 acre lake he suffered the same total blank, never mind, maybe next time.
The next move was to Marsh Farm in the hope of a sizable crucian of 3lb plus. I intended to fish into dark so there was no rush to arrive and I fished the bream water through to midday, there was always the chance of a big tench though that did not happen either. As any angler knows the weather plays a big part of our fishing and with the current big changes of conditions over the last month or so it has made sport very patchy. The near freezing temperature of the previous night did not bode well for the coming two days effort, crucian like most fish prefer it quite steady and mild. I had arranged to meet up with John Found and we would fish through to midnight using various different baits, but all under a float which would have an isotope attached once darkness descended.
As expected the sport was slow, the onsite manager had suggest that the previous week had given reasonable returns but this week it had slowed down almost to a stop. I once brought a fishing book totally because of its title; it is actually a fly fishing book from New Zealand with title of ‘You should have been here Thursday.’ That sums up so much of our fishing days, last week, yesterday, next week or tomorrow, anytime but now!
John did manage one crucian but it was in very poor condition and we did not even photograph it. The thought was that it could be on its way out being old and one of the original stock. Tench and a few bits were caught but the fishing is definitely not what it was four or five years ago though there seems to be another group of crucian coming through and making the 3lb mark again. Three other anglers had decided to fish through to 11pm and they had just one crucian of 2lb-11oz between them so a disappointing night.
I slept in the van, quite comfortable but getting up in the morning I feared the worse when I could see the ice layer on my van windscreen. Not a good start and I seriously thought of leaving straight away. I had planned to fish though into dark again, but decided that although I would fish it would only be until 2:00pm or so, and then I would leave for home. Most of our bites the previous day had come on the prawn so I started on that and quickly took a perch of over 1lb to be followed later by two tench and a few bits. No crucian and I left thinking yet again of the next time.
Arriving home earlier than expected did give the chance for another trip to be arranged and an invite to Curtis, Merv’s grandson, was quickly accepted and the Friday afternoon say us making our way down to Orchid Lakes after the catfish that reside in the Club Lake on that complex. With frosts forecast yet again we were both well prepared for the overnight cold though the days were to be bright and quite mild. This trip was for the Friday and Saturday night, returning first thing Sunday morning, with the known stock of four cats over 50lb and another six over 40lb plus other back-up fish we were hopeful of at least one cat between us.
The first night was fairly uneventful with just the occasional rattle as a carp tried to take one of the 30m/m pellets. We were using a mix of the big halibut pellet I showed in a previous blog and a Dynamite pellet that is labelled ‘Eelblood’ that stinks like hell. Last year I was fortunate enough to catch the lake record at 55lb-9oz during the daytime so the daylight hours passed with us both hopeful of a take though it was not to happen. With line clips and open bail arms holding the 15lb line we were not looking for a twitch so the fishing can be quite relaxing. Teatime came and went and about 9:30pm Curtis decided it was about time to get into bed where it was warmer, those freezing temperatures were returning with a vengeance. Lest than 30 minutes later I heard his call ‘I’m into a cat,’ that smelly pellet had worked its wonders. These fish are very powerful and for a 13 year old lad he played the fish like a veteran. I adjusted the clutch to ensure it could not drag him into the lake on one of its runs, but all was safe and from beginning to end he seemed pretty much in control. As it slipped into the waiting 50 inch landing net I told him he had got his 30lb cat, then I lifted it out and revised that to 40lb! Weigh sling and camera was ready and I soon confirmed a weight of 46lb-9oz, but not without difficulty, I don’t lift that weight easily now adays. After six night of trying he had caught his first catfish along with being his largest fish of any species, terrific effort. With Marsh’s agreement I made the fish safe on a stringer such as used for the Spanish Cats ready for daylight photos in the morning, I retired to sleep but I don’t think Curtis got much of that! We returned home with him planning on relating the story to his parents of the big one that didn’t get away!
Members of the Barbel Society will be familiar with the Research & Conservation Fund and the auction that is held yearly to raise monies that will be used to improve the stocks and habitat for the barbel. As part of this I had offered two day guiding on a roach water that I fish on a regular basis and the next two days had been arranged with the anglers who had contributed their money for that service. This year the auction raised in the region of £5000 so you can imagine that many others offered both goods and their time to this great cause.
On the Monday I met up with the first of those two anglers a chap by the name of Malcolm Davey. He was intent on returning to angling following a serious illness and a long term absence from the sport and the day passed brilliantly. Tackle and tactics to catch the roach, both float and leger were discussed but the down side was the result. As previously mentioned when making long term arrangements we are in the hands of the gods and the elements, Malcolm was not to be lucky. A heavy frost on the Sunday night was followed by a bright, sunny day with flat calm conditions, just about the sum total of everything that could be wrong. It was a real struggle to get a bite off anything, even the small fish would not play the game and with only a dozen or so chances it came to about 7:00pm and Malcolm had to retire because of the cold that was descending. We both knew the next hour or two might be important with small fish finally dimpling the surface of the lake, but there was no choice. Following the usual goodbye at the car park I returned to the tackle and of course the inevitable happened as I caught a few roach in the dying daylight up to a pleasing 1lb-15oz.
The forecast for the next day was far better from a fishing prospective, heavy rain overnight [no frost] with this to continue into the mid-morning, then a 3 hour dry window followed by showers of varying intensity. I met the next guest, Simon Asbury the following morning in that pouring rain. Fortunately I had erected a day shelter the previous evening so we could get the tackle, bait and ourselves into shelter while we got ready to fish. Simon is a well experienced angler and he needed only the simple guidance of my experience as to the best method on this lake and hence the feeder maggot with its short hooklink on a helicopter presentation was soon sailing out into the fishery. Straight away we could see the difference from the previous day as fish after fish came to the net. Not all big but enough to keep the interest and anticipation for a big one approaching or at the 2lb mark.
John Found arrived a little later and set up just along the bank from us and again he was soon fishing away, but all the time he was preparing a trial with a different method. I had read in another blog of an angler who had success in December on this water with float fished prawn and John set about giving this a serious try. Whilst he started on the feeder rig he kept a near side swim topped up with soft pellet and bits of prawn, a small handful of the feed going into the swim at regular intervals to try and get the fish interested. By the mid-afternoon he was ready to check if it was working and it did not take too long to get the answer, a 1lb-10oz silver gem lay in the net as positive proof. A couple of missed bites then a roach of 1lb-10oz again, and a real beauty of 1lb-14oz soon followed. Simon’s sport had gone very slow at this point and John offered him the chance to try the float fished prawn approach in his swim, and although a little reluctant I encourage to take the genuine offer. Both John and I have caught many of these fish and we would like Simon to experience the joy of a big fish.
John's 1lb-14oz specimen roach.
Now Simon had told us that his pb roach was a fish of 1lb-10oz caught when he was about 16 year old, it takes no genius to guess what happened. His first fish was a roach of exactly 1lb-10oz and this was followed by two others of 1lb-8oz, after that the smaller fish came in and he finished the day with a pleasing total of 19 roach to that equal pb of 1lb-10oz.
A showery day on the pit.
Both Simon and Malcolm are determined to return to the water and get amongst those bigger fish and I’m sure they will succeed. I travelled home that evening thinking it was a good job that I had no plans for today – I was knackered!