Simple fishing for simple creatures (Entry 185)

This week I headed to a small lake hoping for a few tench and crucians. And, to be honest, anything that fancied making the sweetcorn I had with me part of it’s breakfast. This would be an unfussy trip out. Simple fishing with time taken to make sure everything is appreciated and noted. From the darting dragonflies I knew would be hunting around the pool to the delicate crucian bites preceding their jagged, powerful fight. I just had to hope that the early morning sun hadn’t put the fish off or sent them skulking under whatever cover they could find. Time would certainly tell, and even if this was the case, there would be plenty to entertain me.

Off the mark with a tench

In typical fashion the first fish of the day would be the smallest I’d catch. An immaculate little tench with eyes bigger than its belly. Two grains of corn proved just too tempting, the float disappearing with such velocity, I feared I’d hooked a carp. Thankfully it was an olive green bar of soap, which was quickly followed by another, bigger this time approaching a pound. A good start. No, a great start, considering how hot the sun. I was ever so grateful the fish were even feeding. However, after just thirty minutes, it was time for me to go back to the car and apply some sun cream. I didn’t much fancy ‘going tomato’.

Pick and mix?

In the interim the swim was rested. I returned smelling absolutely lovely (which is more than I can say most of the time), and settled back down to some fishing. A different species this time came my way. The unmistakable thumping of a hand sized crucian, fighting every inch of the way to the net, and still contorting its body whilst being unhooked. They certainly are little bruisers. But pretty little bruisers. Even in murky water, fins glow vibrant orange-red and flanks shimmer a rich, buttery gold.

Crucian imposter in the shape of a brown goldfish hybrid

For the next few hours the tench kept on biting, their domination thwarted every now and again by either a crucian or brown goldfish. Occasionally a rudd would show a liking for the sweetcorn. I can only imagine what a two pounder looks like in the flesh. These 6oz versions were pretty enough and made for something a little different. I really must try and find somewhere to fish for some bigger specimens soon before the winter is upon us.

The final catch ready to be released

I ended the day with a lovely mixed net of fish. The fish finally succumbed to the heat of the sun just after ten o’clock. The rudd drifted to the other end of the lake to bask, holding still as statues just below the surface, whilst the bubbling tench were finally filled. The swim became lifeless. Covered in tench slime and with the flask drained, I thought it time to leave, but not before I was treated to a sparrow hawk hovering in the adjacent field. On this occasion it seemed whatever had caught it’s attention had made best its escape and the sparrow hawk soon grew smaller as it flew silently towards to the horizon.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

More crucian than not (Entry 184)

Although all fishing trips are fun, or rather they should be, there are some that can be enjoyed just that bit more than others. For me its escaping the usual routine for a few hours, either early in the morning or after work, and with minimal tackle revisiting places fished in the past, when my shoes size was smaller than it is today. There’s something almost other worldly about such trips out. A mixture of nostalgia and re-discovery. Buried memories flung back into the present to live alongside the now.

Crucian or imposter?

My visit was to a small farm pond, where the margins were thick with broad leaved pondweed, and the rudd were easy to spot. I set up where the rushes were least thick and set my float so the small pellet I would be fishing would just touch the bottom. Ideally I would have loved some casters but this was an impromptu session so the ever available pellet won over. It didn’t take long for the delicate tip to confidently sank from sight and after a short scrap the first of the days fish was in the net. A little crucian. A dubious little crucian, having more than a whiff of brown goldfish about it, but for the sake of this story, this was a crucian.

No doubt about this one

It was just like I used to catch. Though I remember them being much bigger. Probably something to do with my hands being smaller then. Or maybe it was because at the time I had caught precious few ‘crucians’ and each one looked absolutely incredible. And boy can they fight! For little fish, not even threatening half a pound, they can strip line from a centrepin when hooked with such ease. The session wore on. The fish kept coming. When I caught ten crucians I placed a split shot in a spare container. Easier on my old brain than counting singularly like I used to. For a change a small perch made and appearance and then a small rudd before I hooked into something a little more feisty than the rest. A pristine brown goldfish. Confirming my suspicions that these little ‘crucians’ are not little crucians after all. Still, they are more crucian than not, and I was having a fine old time.

Part of the final catch

In all honesty the fishing was easy, a pinch of pellet every now and again kept the fish in a most obliging mood, the float never settled for more than a minute before it was pulled under. If anything time passed too quickly, but with four split shot in the container, along with a smattering of rudd, roach and perch, I was happy to call it a day as a storm began to rumble behind the trees. Time to make a hasty exit. More memories to gather dust in the corner of my brain. For another ten years or longer but there ready to surface when the time is right.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Nearly bream revisited / Houdini the Tench (Entry 183)

I found myself heading back to the same venue as last week. Thoughts of bream once again my catalyst. This week, however, I would catch a bream. I had to. There could be no excuses. Unlike last time when conditions were far from ideal, this week the weather was perfect, a warm wind, overcast skies and I had made a dawn start. I had casters with me too and these bream love casters. Even the peg I wanted was available. Yes, I thought to myself, if I don’t catch a bream this time I seriously need to hang my head in shame.

Ideal bream fishing conditions

In went twenty feeders full of casters, pellets, and groundbait at about forty yards where the slow, sloping shelf just about meets the deepest water in the lake. Here any marginal weed is minimal and the bottom is largely firm. Usually to the breams liking. I gave the swim twenty minutes whilst I drank a tea and set up the rest of my tackle, all the while keeping my eyes on the area where occasionally, in between gusts of wind, I spied an odd patch of bubbles. This was looking promising. I made my first cast and sat back. Almost immediately; a line bite. Then another. Next the tip slowly pulled around and held. I lifted the rod into nothing. Madness! I didn’t even feel the fish. Still, next cast I would get one, just wait and see.

A tench posing as a bream

Except I didn’t. An hour passed with absolutely no more activity in the swim. Where had the liners gone? The bubbles? Very, very strange. I topped up the swim with a few more feeders full of casters. A change of hookbait from caster to sweetcorn was also decided upon. Then a near perfect cast saw the rig in prime position. Time to cross the fingers of my right hand which would leave my left for when I really needed it later on. This seemed to work, as a few minutes later the rod was nearly pulled in, certainly not by a bream, this had to be a tench. Indeed it was, doing a little gardening in the thick marginal weed, a few minutes later the fish, accompanied by about the same amount of weed, was safely in the net. A green present wrapped in green paper.

The first and biggest bream of the day

But still not a bream. I changed back to a caster hook bait where almost instantly I had another bite. On the other end of the line a slow, plodding weight. That beautiful slow, plodding weight of a bream. At last! Now to lead the fish in without too much pressure on the hook hold. As bream do, it behaved impeccably, swimming in a straight line from swim to net. It was a decent fish too. A 7lb’er in fact, and was the first of four fish, though the next three fish were all slightly smaller around the 6lb mark. The last fish I hooked was the same species as the first, though this one had much different ideas on how the fight would end, and this tench felt lager than the first. It kited to my left at a ridiculous speed, directly into a bed of lilies, and there it went solid. Completely locked up. There was nothing for it other than paying out some line, placing the rod down, and waiting. Now was the time to cross the fingers of my left hand. Minutes passed. The moment of truth came slowly round, rod in hand I reeled down, still there was weight, and a kick from the unseen fish. But miraculously it pulled through the lilies with the gentlest of force. What joy, another weedy green present safely netted, ready to be unwrapped.

This time however that green parcel was an empty one.

Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

Nearly bream (Entry 182)

I cast out for what must have been the thirtieth time. Despite the strong wind that blew across me from right to left, the rig flew true and landed in pretty much the same place it had been doing on previous casts. Give or take. It’s quite satisfying you know, when you really feel like you are doing things well, like deep down you know you will be rewarded with a bite. Eventually. I was still waiting for that first bite of the day, you see, after slab sided bream on a Cheshire Lake. Conditions were not ideal for bream fishing by any stretch of the imagination but I have caught them from here in similar conditions in the past so my confidence wasn’t too low.

Not a bad place to while away hours

Of course, sitting in such beautiful surroundings helps matters a fair bit, especially when its more than a little slow, and because bream bites are usually pretty slow and steady, you can afford yourself more than a fleeting glance at something other than the quiver tip. The shimmering trees, with sunlight cascading off their healthy green leaves, or perhaps down into the margins, where clear water makes it easy to spot all manner of creatures. Swan mussels, water boatmen, whirligig beetles and of course, plenty of tiny fish. There was even a small jack pike, either hiding under the stage or on the blind side of an obstruction, whilst the fry fish shoaled, out of sight, on the other. A game of cat and mouse, of survival, perfectly and simplistically playing out in front of me.

Cat and mouse or pike and rudd

But of the bream there was no sign. Three hours had flown by without so much as a line bite. I had started fishing with corn, a good visual bait that can pick up a quick fish or two, but this time it seemed gaudy was not to their liking. Double fake caster was my reserve bait choice, tough enough to withstand the attentions of the many tiny rudd and perch, but tempting enough for an old bronze bream. They usually love casters on here too, and I had fed a fair few of them by now, but still the swim was devoid of fish. Maybe it was time to try a pellet?

A banker of a bream bait

After six hours and with my bait now nearly gone, I had my first action of the day, a savage line bite that immediately dispelled any thoughts I had of blanking. The bream were here. They had found the bait and were currently chomping down mouthful after mouthful of crunchy casters. It would only be a matter of time before one of those mouthfuls picked up my hookbait. I re-cast and sat back. Poised. Alert. More than I had been all day. Five minutes went by. Five that turned into ten. Then twenty minutes. Time to re-cast. But still nothing materialised. The tip simply refused to ‘do its thing’. On the opposite bank, a golden scaled common leapt clear of the surface, smashing up the lilies upon re-entry. It grabbed my attention quite easily, and for a few moments I was transfixed, by the concentric circles now growing larger and beginning to fade, much like my dreams of bream.

But not before I began to imagine a bream bite starting to play out, quiver tip pulling round slowly into a pleasing arch, and that when my gaze once again fell upon it, I would have all I wanted. It did no such thing. Maybe I shouldn’t have looked back at all.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Persistence doesn’t always pay off (Entry 181)

June is over and, for one reason or another, I have not yet fished for tench. I love tench and all that comes with fishing for them. At least more traditional ways of fishing for them. Sure, they might not catch the bigger examples, ones that fall to bolt rigs or method feeders, but any tench hooked on float tackle will more than make up for this ‘lack of mass’ with their fight. What powerful and terrifying runs they make. I hoped that I would get to experience this, if only once, during a few hours float fishing in the margins. And I say traditional. I’ll hold my hands up now and say I left the centrepin at home. I even left the rod. Pole fishing is great for tench, allowing all the thrills of watching a float sway amongst pin prick bubbles, but also precise presentation. Invaluable when the fish are playing hard to get or the water is a pressured one. It does test your nerve somewhat when elastic streaks unstoppably from an increasingly arching pole but what fun.

Choice of pegs for me today

I arrived early afternoon to find a largely empty venue. Rain was forecast so after a quick lap I got settled into my peg. The water in front of me was deep, a good twelve foot and I plumbed up towards the bottom of the shelf, where the lake bed undulated least. A good amount of pellets and sweetcorn was then fed. Enough to hopefully attract, but more importantly hold, one or two hungry tench in the area. Then over a well deserved cup of tea and a biscuit I let the swim settle whilst the first droplets of rain began to fall.

Regular feeding of sweetcorn

I expected a slow start but just half an hour after feeding I had my first bite. A slow, drawn out bite, not unlike a bream, though from the amount of elastic currently melting from the pole, this was certainly no bream. In the deep water, the fish ploughed around, not only do you have to contend with their X and Y movements but also Z, surface bound for a few feet before burying down with their heads and making the ground back. With patience and a little luck the fish tired but not before a few last ditch runs were observed upon her noticing the landing net. My reward was a lovely, fighting fit female tench of exactly 4lb 8oz. A great start and lovely to catch a fish so early from a venue that I have struggled on in the past.

The business end of a pole caught tench

I re-fed the swim before dropping the rig back into place. There had been no bubbles. No line bites. The bite itself came from nowhere. With tench obviously present, I expected to see some signs of life in the swim, but forty minutes drifted by without much circumstance. That is until I changed hookbait from corn to pellet. No sooner had the float settled, and the hookbait come to rest, I found myself in another tussle. A much slower encounter this time, at least for the start, so much so I was sure that this time I had in fact hooked a big bream, until that familiar power took over. The fish ran much further than the first. It did so not just on one but on three occasions. Heart pounding. I feared the worse as the fish headed for the sanctuary of an overhanging tree. With the pole tip kept low and my toes crossed, thankfully, the fish made an about turn back out into open water. Now I felt much more confident. The power began to lessen. The fish began to tire, steadily rising up inch by inch, towards the surface before appearing, a gulp of air, and she was beaten. In the net on the first time of asking. This was a much better tench than the last and, at 6lb 6oz, a cracking fish to catch on the pole.

A 6lb 6oz pole caught tench

Then came the frustration. Missed bites. At least seven in 90 minutes. It was more like fishing for the tench of late August, when they’ve been pressured, caught a few times and there is an abundance of natural food at their disposal. They were ever so timid putting the crucians I have been catching recently to shame. I persisted. I concentrated. After all, the next bite could see me into an even bigger fish than the last. I day dreamed about such an event but the reality didn’t play out to match. I left happy with my brace of tincas but cursed the many missed bites. I may have hooked more on bolt rigs but I knew it wouldn’t have been half as much fun, and anyway, there’s always next time. As always.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

NorthwestFisherman