Back to the cut (Entry 177)

Just Sunday afternoon free. Better than I expected to be honest. The weekend was going to be full up with a hunt for a ‘new’ car but as luck would have it Saturday saw the job done. I had a lot of things to sort out on the Sunday morning. Mundane, run of the mill things, but things that I certainly felt better knowing were complete. The tonic after all that? A few hours on the canal.

A lovely swim, apart from the duck weed

I headed to the same stretch as last week but decided to fish a different area. Seeing as it would be just a few hours, any knowledge gained would be good for the future, even if I ended up blanking today. I sat just to the right of small turning circle, a short way down from a bridge, the far bank flanked with dead reed beds. I had a few old casters with me, that had certainly seen better days, and a handful of worms. Good job the water was as cold as it was. The feed would have to be spared or I’d be heading home in thirty minutes. It was again a slow start, though there was plenty of wildlife to keep me entertained, my friend the kingfisher from last week making numerous flights to and fro, as well as a whole host of other small birds. With an hour gone, the float sprang into life. Darting from view, a quick strike saw a small fish on.

Bread and butter

A bread and butter roach. The start of just under an hour of fast action and lots of bites, most coming from fish similar to the one above, though interspersed were a few hand sized perch and the ever welcomed gudgeon, who happened to drop off the hook as it was swung to hand. As usually happens when fishing just one area on a canal, after taking twenty or so fish, the bites became less frequent and much more tentative. It was time to rest the swim, feed a little more (and I mean a little) whilst a cup of tea was consumed.

A better stamp of fish

In the interim, a narrow boat moored up to my right, and I was joined by the owners border collie who seemed intent on helping me watch the float once I began fishing again. I think he brought me a little luck too, as the next four bites were all from slightly bigger roach/bream hybrids with a liking for the whole worm I was hoping would attract a bigger perch. Still, I was’t complaining; an impromptu session had just served me up a welcomed net of silvers in quite lovely surroundings. Life’s pretty good you know.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

The convenient cut (Entry 176)

A scattering of the white stuff greeted my glance out of the window. A few inches deep in places. The air temperature previously had been seriously cold, although I was sure with the falling of the snow, this would have risen somewhat. Still, it was the temperature and trend of the water that counted most. I had two options. Head to the river with a trotting rod and fish a few swims or head to a canal and find an area free from ice and stick it out. The river is where I really wanted to make my way to but looking at the river levels, and drawing from previous experience, I begrudgingly left it well alone for another week. Canal time it was then.

I made for the sanctuary of a canal section with moored boats, obstructions, snags and a little more depth than the the canal has elsewhere. It was to be a day of setting my stall out, baiting and waiting, hoping that at some point a fish or two would find my feed area and, well, feed. The obvious place to fish would be the boat channel but cold water sinks and I expected this area to be the most unpleasant for fish. Instead, I fished ‘up the self’, the nearside shelf in fact, deeper than the far side shelf and comfortably wedged between four moored narrowboats. I made this my swim.

The swim

The canal was pretty much free from ice, just the occasional raft came drifting by, carried by a moderate and cold wind. I fed the swim with a generous amount of chopped worm along with a few maggots. A cup of tea was then poured and the swim was allowed to settle. A brilliant dash of blue interrupted my day dream. A kingfisher streaked past, a tiny fish trapped in his beak. I hoped I could follow his lead. At least in catching a fish. Certainly not in flying or developing a beak. The first half an hour dragged by, not so much as a touch, then from nowhere the float darted under. A tiny perch but a fish none the less.

It's a startAfter several of these little perch came an even more tentative bite. One I eventually missed. I wondered what on earth it was. The next cast the same thing happened. Tentative bite that was easily missed. I changed to a smaller hook and a smaller piece of worm. I had a hunch that this might be a better stamp of fish. There was something quite large about these tiny bites. On the first put in after scaling down the float once more stuttered into life but this time with more positivity. I struck and managed to hook the fish. An icy cold redfin. A beautiful visitor on such a bitterly cold day.

Quality roachThe next hour saw another five of these roach landed. All falling to a small worm section. A pinch of maggots fed after each fish seemed to keep them interested. That is, until, a procession of narrowboats passed through and really stirred things up. The fish dispersed and I had no further bites. There was one person who was catching with regularly though. The kingfisher flew past for the eighth as I started to pack up, this time two fish in tow, a much better angler than I will ever be. I really enjoyed a few quick hours on the cut. Even in difficult conditions there is always a few fish to be caught.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Or nearest offer (Entry 175)

The door bell sounded. Instinctively, and much like some Pavlovian subject, I rushed from my seat to the door without hesitation. A quick glance through the ‘peep hole’ revealed the face of a man in his mid forties, distorted by the glass, and appearing as he would do in the back of a spoon. I opened the door to a more normal looking person, no doubt excited about the acquisition about to take place. Letting me know he was here about the fishing tackle I ushered him inside and proceeded to show him the bounty; a well loved and versatile float rod.

It had been mine for more than a few years now and had caught me many different species from a multitude of venues. I recalled first using it late one summer, fishing the waggler with caster for tench on a Cheshire mere. The day had been tough, not many fish were being caught, and around dinnertime the ashen sky began to darken. Brooding in the distance a thunderstorm. Umbrella put up just in time as the first heavy drops of rain fell from the sky. Over the next forty minutes the rig was reeled in. The rain so heavy it simply sank the float. Forked lightning streaked earthbound and the audible reply of the thunder vibrated, both in my ears and my chest, seconds later. It was disconcerting to say the least but also an amazing spectacle. Nature truly a powerful force. Once the storm subsided, I landed a lovely four pound tench on the very next cast, with two others following in quick succession. It christened the rod and cemented a memorable day firmly in my brain.

01

“Yes, it will handle small carp and tench, perfect for lazy summer days,” I exalted, “but it has enough sensitivity in the tip to hit finicky roach, dace or crucian bites.” I wasn’t kidding either.

Cut to a particularly cold December morning on the local river. We were here at my Dads suggestion. The canals would be frozen over for sure, and although he expected it to be a slow day, he was confident of a bite or two from the resident chub. Again, I fished caster, trotting a light stick float down a lovely length of intimate river. I spent most of the morning in that beautiful swim but had no fish. It was time for a change. I climbed up the high bank behind me and walked downstream. The sound of the weir became louder; like someone turning the volume up on a television playing static. Once I passed the sill, where violent and turbulent currents lashed, the volume began to decrease and where the white, foamy water started to break apart and steady somewhat, I decided to fish. The current pushed my float very close to the near bank but it was ok. There was good depth here, eight feet or so, and I fed the swim with a generous helping of casters, waiting as long as I could before running through. I might have made it to two minutes. First cast and a six ounce dace was swung to hand. Next cast another dace of a similar size. Brilliant! For the next hour and a half I caught around thirty of these dace along with a few better chub mixed in for good measure. It really opened my eyes to the merits of roving on rivers and the pleasure of fishing with balanced tackle. A most enjoyable day with a stunning sunset to end with.

02

“Well, it sounds like it’ll cover everything I need,” the man said, “I’m just a beginner so this should be perfect.” He handed over the rod tokens, all ten of them, and with a smile said goodbye.

On closing the door I suddenly felt hollow. That would be regret raising its head, I guessed. I realised I’d made a mistake. I felt like opening the door and running after him. Why had I just sold this rod? One that had been with me through the many trials and tribulations of my formative years. The rod who’s carbon had not just a few light scratches etched into it, but also a myriad of memories, successes and failures. A rod who’s handle had collected the oil and dirt of ten years spent nurturing a love and fascination for this most diverse and rewarding pastime. Maybe I shouldn’t have sold an old friend so readily.

There was one consolation though. All I could hope now was that it did the same for its new owner as it had done for its old.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Sometimes things just go to plan (Entry 174)

With slightly cooler conditions than we’ve had of late, particularly at night, I returned to the the venue I fished a few weeks ago for tench. This time however, with this distinct chill present, I fancied that the bigger perch might be more willing to feed. There was still the outside chance of an out of season tinca, but realistically, it was perch that I fancied. I know, perch again, but this time things would be different. The plan was to fish caster and chopped worm for the first few hours in the hope of attracting smaller fish. Get a swim going so to speak. All this feeding activity would hopefully not go unnoticed by a big perch. Then, in the afternoon, I would fish a worm on the hook to see if I could tempt one into taking.

Rudd time

After a slow start, usual for the venue, I began to pick up rudd after rudd. Three to four ounce fish, all falling to double caster and taken just as the last dropper came into play on the float tip. Confident, sail away bites, unmissable – even for me – and I amassed forty or so of them before dinner along with a sprinkling of roach and small perch. I kept feeding the swim whilst I drank a few cups of tea and chomped on a mince pie. When I continued fishing not long later, still with double caster, the swim was strangely quiet.

Roach time, too

That was my cue to change to worm. I had a hunch a bigger fish had moved in and unnerved the shoal, hoping dearly that it was Mrs Perch, and not Mrs Pike. The worm fluttered through the water and down into the depths, and immediate tug saw the float bob a little, then return to absolute still. Maybe that was a small perch wiping at the bait. Using the pole, as I was, I was able to drag the bait around the swim, allowing it a few minutes once settled for any fish to make up their minds, before repeating the process. On the fourth or fifth move the float slowly sank. My strike set the hook into a larger fish. It kicked and jagged, making it’s way to open water, and away from any danger.

Time to compose

The unseen culprit tried in vain to reach the bottom but it was simply a case of letting the elastic tire the fish. Not too long later, a big stripy surfaced, it’s huge mouth still clinging to a rather bedraggled worm. The perch was safely netted and left to recover in the margins. I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s not often fishing follows the script but today it had done so to the detail. I took time for a cup of tea, admiring the perch in the net, backlit by the afternoon sun. It almost seemed to glow. Certainly a two pounder.

A cracking perch over two pound

I put her on the scales. She was indeed a ‘two’, but even more so than seeing that dial pull round, I enjoyed watching her swim away under a trailing tree brach, melting into the clear water and vanishing. I tried for an hour or more to tempt another perch but the rudd and roach had moved back in. Now even they took whole worm after whole worm. A netful of silvers and a big perch. That will do nicely.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman