Not everyones cup of tea (Entry 96)

With the sun blazing down, I began to wonder if I had made the right decision. I was after bream. Not usually the lovers of bright conditions, especially in gin clear water, such as the one I was at. The optimist in me argued that the good depth of water might go into my favour and if I didn’t get a bite during the daylight, I would stand a good chance as darkness fell. The time in between would allow me to build a bed of bait with a swimfeeder ready to hold any passing shoal of bream. Yes, I thought, that sounded like a good idea. I settled into a lovely looking swim and went about finding as clear an area as possible with the help of a 1oz lead. First cast landed in a dense weed bed. Long, fresh lengths of Canadian Pondweed came back wrapped around the lead. The next cast, further out than the first, landed with a much more positive thud. The water was deeper here too and I assumed I had found a drop off. Perfect. A cast to either side and further out again confirmed this. With that I clipped up, replaced the lead with a large swimfeeder and made twenty cast to the spot in quick succession. I like to spread the bait a little when after bream, cast to the left and right of my far bank marker so the fish have a good area to feed over. As well as the groundbait and pellets I used to plug the feeder, I also included hemp, casters and a little sweetcorn to the mix. What bream could resist such a banquet?

I didn't expect a bream so quickly

As it turns out, on my very first cast after just a few minutes, the rod tip slowly pulled round and I lifted into a fish. That unmistakeable, lumbering weight on the other end told me I was into my first bream of the day. Too be honest I was taken back by how quick the fish came and the fact they were feeding in such hot, still and bright conditions at all. At 6lb 8oz it was a great start. A quick picture and the fish returned in the next peg. Grinning from ear to ear, I filled the feeder and re-cast. Another ten minutes went by. Just before I was about to repeat the process, the rod tip once more pulled round deliberately. I couldn’t believe my luck. Another bream and this time it felt a little heavier. Indeed the fish must have thought it was a tench as it tried its hardest to bury itself in the weed bed in front of me. I kept the rod high, gently persuading the fish to rise up in the water. It worked and I was able to lead the fish over the obstruction and into the net without any further worries.

A lovely, large bronze bream

The fish turned out to be bigger weighing in at 7lb 10oz. A brace of bream on my first two casts. This good fortune wasn’t to last though as for the next two hours I sat without any more fish. The odd line bite kept me on my toes and at least proved there was fish in the area but they seemed unwilling to feed positively. Hardly surprising really. I was very content for now to keep building the swim and watching the wildlife. Risk looking away from the rod tip for a fleeting glance of a darting dragonfly. There was a whole host of different coloured damselflies too, resting on the lily pads in the margins, soaking up the suns warming rays. Occasionally a rudd slurped a fly that had been unfortunate enough to fall onto the surface and huge plumes of fry scattered to avoid the hungry mouths of palm sized perch. So much to keep me entertained while I waited for the bream to make up their minds. To feed or not to feed.

A solidly built male bream

But feed they did. Once I realised that I needed to cast five or six times after a fish to keep the bites coming I had a good run of activity. Five in total over the next two hours although I only managed to land two. One dropped off at the net and two were lost early into the fight. I had to end the session earlier than planned as I ran out of bait. I hadn’t planned to be casting as regularly as I had to but the fish dictated otherwise. Three bream over seven pound and one over six is a statistic I certainly can’t complain about. I will certainly be back at some point when conditions are a little more favourable and this time I will make sure I have a plentiful supply of bait. I really enjoyed my few hours in the pursuit of these deep bodied fish. Not to everyones taste I admit but I think there is something really satisfying about bream fishing. Something I’ll have to ponder over for now.

The last bream of the day

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Opening day (Entry 95)

It came and went. That day that seems to be so far away mid march. There’s nothing you can do. Tackle stowed solemnly behind the tench rods, metaphorically speaking maybe. Looking back at my past records though, the first day of the river season is never a good one for me. Even so, without a car for the main event, I could only dream about what could have been. A fistful of plump chub would have surely made their way into the net, falling for the old favourite way of catching them; trotted bread flake. Or maybe a barbel would have took a static bait presented daringly close to an overhanging tree. And how could a day fishing a waggler shallow for the prince of the stream go without a mention. A huge shoal of hungry dace devouring any maggot hitting the surface within seconds of it doing so.

With the car returned and running ‘like new’, a few days had passed since that important date in the anglers calendar. It might not have been the national opening day but it didn’t matter. This was my opening day. I knew I couldn’t get out until evening so I planned to fish as close to home as possible and fish well into darkness. This meant the river I would fish was not an easy one. Not to worry. Once more I would be a part of a beautiful picture of lush river banks, dark deep pools and skylines of blue. Here I could drift in and out of my thoughts and share a few hours with nature. This picture didn’t need fish to complete it. I wouldn’t turn them away, however.

Hungry?

I hedged my bets and baited two swims hen I arrived around eight o’clock. Both very different from each other. One with a gentler pace and deeper in depth and the other faster and shallower. Into each was fed 3mm halibut pellets, and palmful of 6mm pellets and a selection of hookbait sample. In this case, 10mm halibut pellets. Did I mention I was using halibut pellets?

What a backdrop

I set up the rod back at the car before making my way to the first swim. The run itself was on my own bank so I could gently flick out the rig with minimal disturbance. I fancied it here less so I planned to fish until a little before dusk then move to the second. As I expected little happened for 90 minutes. Not a pull or a twitch on the tip. I always had the next swim though. If one thing can be said about anglers we are an optimistic bunch. So whilst I watched the tip for the last ten minutes before moving on, my mind was filled with the impressive fish that could be potentially be gaining in confidence a little up river.

Hopefully a fishy haven

A while later I was settled into my second swim. Rigs in position, I sat back silent as a statue. As still as one too. With the dropping light levels so the sounds around me became elevated. Everyday noises began to seem alien. Heightened by the fact I was becoming less dependant on my eyes. It’s amazing how at moments like this the world around you transforms. It’s one of the reason I love fishing at into night. A totally unique experience all round. And when that isotope stutters into life, the feeling is something else. Unfortunately on this occasion that never happened. At one o’clock I called quits and vowed to return soon. Another ‘opening day’ disappointment then? Not at all. As I said earlier the fish would have been the icing on the cake. But this cake tasted sweet enough on its own. I was treated to a glorious sunset, glimpses of tiny mammals venturing out for a night of foraging, and when I got home I slept like a child. What more could you ask for?

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Until Next time tight lines

NorthwestFisherman

Something about horses and water (Entry 94)

A busy week this week has meant only one very short session of fishing for me. It made deciding what to target and where to go even harder than it usually is. Maybe some more silver bream would be a good idea? Then again, I really fancied fishing for crucians. It was the latter I decided to target. Although after planning an early start, trouble with the car meant I arrived in the middle of the day and had to be leaving mid afternoon. Crucian are not known for their day time devotion to feed. Much more a lover of early mornings or evenings and into dusk. I knew I was in for a tough time. I wasn’t wrong.

I started as I usually do. A little bed of groundbait put down, though instead of the margins I fished much further out, convinced this was where the crucians would be lurking in the deeper water. Of course, not to put all my eggs in one basket I fed a margin swim too, tight to some flag iris. I sat fishing for an hour in the deeper swim down the slope, changing hookbait, from pellet, to caster and then to the get out of jail bait, a red maggot. This worked, of course it did, what fish can resist that wriggling red morsel. However it was tiny rudd that were the diners. Fish not even capable of making an ounce in weight. Or of getting me to take my camera out of its bag. The bites stopped when I changed to anything else. Even bulking the rig to get the maggot past the rudd in the upper layers saw the float standing defiantly still.

A haven for crucian?

Time to try the margin. Same thing. Rudd after rudd on maggot but nothing on anything else. Even so, I was enjoying myself, taking in the surroundings, watching damsel flies skip near to the waters surface and take rest on reed stems. A tiny shrew seemed very happy with my offerings of casters, holding them in its tiny paws as it crunched them down.

A hard earned crucian

Eventually my persistence was rewarded with a bite on pellet. The fish fighting on the other end of the line was classically crucian. Thumping and diving in short, powerful jabs. It’s golden flank soon on the surface. How could anyone not be happy to see one of these beautiful fish? A shame I couldn’t tempt any more but I guess it’s us that have to fit into their schedule. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…

The business end

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That’s no skimmer (Entry 93)

A search for a species that is often overlooked this week. One that I have fond memories of catching on the canal as a child. They were only small; two to three ounces being the norm. Even so, I really liked how they looked. Some way between a bream and a roach. Only not like a hybrid of the two at all. No, it’s wrong to compare them that way. I’m talking, of course, about silver bream. Often hiding in amongst nets of skimmers and sneaking past the eyes of anglers who don’t give their catch a second glance.

A late afternoon/early evening session on a club water was planned. I had caught some of the intended species from here before and to some very satisfying sizes. Fishing close in down the marginal shelf would be the order of the day and because there is not really any way of singling them out from the other fish (at least none that I know of), I resigned it to being a numbers game. Casters and pellet on my side tray, I fed the swim and give it a little time to settle. I hoped I would get to see one or two of the waters chunky silver bream. As I’ve already said, I like silver bream, and though they don’t grow as large as their bronze cousins, they are lovely pearlescent fish and usually quite obliging feeders. Initially, as expected it was skimmers and roach making up the majority of the action, with the odd roach/bream hybrid thrown in. Nothing over eight ounces but all great fish to catch. A small tench livened things up. A really spirited fight on light lines and small hooks. It’s beautiful red eye peering back at me from the mat.

Teddy bear eye of a small tench

Eventually persistence and correct feeding paid off and I managed my first silver bream of the session. A good sized fish too, bang on one pound. You might call it a specimen sized example? Really rewarding fishing in any case. Double caster the fishes downfall.

The first silver bream of the year

With the fish returned it was back to catching the usual skimmers, roach and the odd rudd. A few angry tench pulled metres of elastic from the pole, it’s fluorescent colour brightening up what had become, a very dull early evening. The wind was picking up a little too. Time for the hoody to be put on. And some coffee too. But by feeding little and often, I managed to keep the fish biting and thereby increasing my chances of coming into contact with another silver bream. In the end I managed five of them, and had caught well over 40 fish in total. It had been a really pleasant few hours fishing so I don’t know why, in the picture below, I look like I have been kicked somewhere delicate. Please excuse that. The fish is a cracker though.

A forgotten species?

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NorthwestFisherman