Distractions (Entry 201)

The day was almost made around four o’clock, just as the temperature noticeably dropped, along with the light. A heavy weight met the strike, one I couldn’t say I had timed well at all, as I hadn’t actually seen the float go under. I had company, you see, a fellow fisherman, debating with himself, but via my ears, just why the canal was fishing so tough today. Amongst other things. I tried my best to continue the conversation for as long as I could, but after thirty minutes, my eyes rarely left the float, hoping firstly I wouldn’t miss any bites and secondly he would in some way get the point. I was all out of conversation.

Now, I am not for one moment ignorant or unapproachable, but I just don’t feel like I concentrate the same when I have someone I don’t know looking over my shoulder. Eventually he bid his farewell, and for some now really annoying reason I had to have one last look at him, just to make sure he was actually leaving. He was. I couldn’t help but smile as I gently shook my head. Seventy minutes! He certainly had some stamina. Little did I know that in those three or four seconds, the entire session was to take its turn for the worse.

I don’t want this to be about the one that got away. Although, of course, it did. A very good fish too. My only bite for five hours. Mistimed and hopeless. The hook barely nicking the very edge of the fishes mouth. A head shake, then another, and a grimace on my part. It was the third head shake that freed the hook, a brute of a perch slowly sinking through the clear water in that way fish do when they have just turned to ghost. Evaporating. Not quite slow motion but certainly not full speed. It almost brought me to tears. But this isn’t about the one that got away, remember.

The day before I had a quick session on the same canal. It fished as hard as it did today. Maybe a little less so because I did have more bites. My concentration levels were high and I fished hard. The bites were slow to come. Mid afternoon came round quickly and I watched two kingfishers, perched next to each other in a tree, just a short way down from me. They looked splendid in their electric feathers. Like alien fruit ready to fall from an over burdened branch. When I glanced back to the float I’d been watching ardently, as you will now have guessed, it wasn’t there. In shock I struck, mistimed and hopeless, into a perch of a pound or so, in just a splendid colour as the kingfishers. I landed the fish, of course.

And that’s when I used up the little slice of luck that would have served me better the next day. Different days, different distractions but distractions none the less. Part and parcel of being out in rich and busy places. So many distractions. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of other times that situations like this play out. Some will end in failure but some will make memories.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Sequence (Video 3)

Something a bit different to the usual here. Some might call it ‘cerebral’. That’s art speak for ‘a bit rubbish’. A short delve into just what drives and motivates us as anglers. The video is hosted on Youtube. Click on the icon to be taken to it. If you like the video, and want to, consider giving it a share. Here is an upfront thanks just in case you do.

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

How did I end up here? (Entry 200)

I couldn’t let it lie. Sat in my car having just bought a pint of red maggots, half way to the river, I knew full well I wouldn’t get there. No, instead I went back into the shop and purchased a packet of size eight hooks. I had everything else with me that I would need in order to bodge a makeshift paternoster livebait rig. Once more the cursed perch had won over, better judgement had not prevailed, or maybe a sixth sense had taken over.

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The canal looked great today in its rusty Autumn colours. Though it always looks good to me. Thankfully the floating leaves from last week had abated slightly and the water clarity had increased, owing to the cold nights leading up to today. If it was going to be hard to track down one of the big perch I wanted to catch so dearly, then it would be even harder to catch something to tempt them. This canal is notoriously tough when the temperatures cool. I fished fine and with a tiny hook. A single red maggot tempted a two inch roach after twenty minutes of angling. An hour later, my tally had not changed, so off I headed with my one bait. Off to a more perchy area of the canal, where the width narrowed, and beds of rushes on the near bank still cling on to life.

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After a change of rig, and a plumb up, I was ready to make a cast, a foot from the bed of rushes where the water was maybe twice that measurement deep. The roach bait settled quickly. Torpid perhaps. The float sitting still amongst the softness of the reflected grey clouds. Minutes ticked by, before the float abruptly lay flat, though only temporarily. In an instant it was gone, plunging from sight, savagely and definitely. I let a second or two pass before striking, upon which the most pleasant weight pulled the rod tip round. The fish jagged and plodded. It had no speed and simply lumbered under the rod tip. In the depth a flash. A perch, now rising begrudgingly toward the surface, where in a fumbled blur I thrust the net under and claimed the fish on the first time of it breaking the divide. I was over the moon. The perch less so thrashing angrily in its confines.

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A beautifully vibrant two pounder. Icy cold to my, only slightly warmer, hands. After the failures of the last few weeks this really was the most beautiful perch I’dseen. I admired it, taking in its blood red fins and sleek lines, before carefully releasing it a short way from the swim. And although I didn’t know it as I walked back to my chair, the number of perch I caught would not change, for try as I may over the next three hours, until the light faded in fact, I could not catch another small fish. It was a strange turn of events. The canal having total control over proceedings.

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It had already rewarded me I guess, and pretty quickly too, and was not about to allow me to plunder its stocks any further. What other, bigger perch were waiting to be caught that day, couldn’t have been any further from my grasp. The truth is thats the way it should be. Those bigger fish will always be there, lurking in the murky shadows, both of the water and of our minds. If not today then almost certainly tomorrow. Whenever that day comes round.

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In late autumn, the darkness rolls in all too soon, but not before the sun had poked through the clouds for the first time all day, a warm orange glow cast over the valley. Accompanied by a warming cup of tea, I took in this view, and breathed in the now chilly air. The wagglers’ tip dissolved. Blue-black enveloped. At that moment I couldn’t have cared less about the ‘whats’ and ‘ifs’. Only what had been in front of me just a few hours before.

Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

Perca-inept (Entry 199)

I decided to spend the day before Haloween trying to catch some of our more sinister species of fish. A trinity of predators would have been perfect, but having relatively little chance of a zander, I settled for pike and perch. The river I chose, to give me best chance of achieving this, was in dire condition. Sluggish, sulking, and very low. It’s visibility was good though but the bait fish seemed to be aware of this. No movement from anything whatsoever. Devoid of life somehow. It took me the best part of two hours to catch three little roach to use as bait. I never invisiged that happening. This water is absolutely full of them. Alarms bells began to sound.

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Whilst fishing for the bait, I had flung a worm bait down the edge, where the water was deep and dark. I thought I would be able to tick off the perch quite quickly doing this. Why do I never learn? Two hours later, but now with roach in hand, I moved on to another swim, more oxygenated and with more pronounced depth change. A further hour passed without a bite, both on the roach and the worm, so another move was observed. To a back water this time, tree lined and reed fringed, with margins deep and menacing. Here, at last, not too long later, a little success came my way. A small pike around five pounds, taking not the roach bait but the worm, seconds after it hit the surface. You couldn’t make it up.

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So what about the perch? Well, we all know what the perch do when I try to catch them. I’ve finally figured it out. They start a mass migration to the furthest point away from me they can possibly get to. Some have even been known to reach the sea. I have no proof of this yet but it seems to be the most viable reason as to why I cannot catch them. Without resorting to the unthinkable; that being I am perca-inept. But quiet, I will never admit that. Not just yet.

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The day ended with just the one pike to my name. One last throw of the dice was in order. The next day, now Haloween itself, I took a lure rod and walked the canal. It didn’t go to plan, of course. The leaves were an absolute pain, clumped in swathes on the surface, and picked up on the line and hookpoint with frustrating regularity. My right boot began to let in water. Squelch, crunch, squelch, crunch, as I plugged and plugged away (or jigged and jigged). And just as it was yesterday, it was as if the whole canal was devoid of life. Nothing hit the surface, even at dusk, and I didn’t have so much as a nip from anything predatory all day. One bemused angler began the journey home, a little after five o’clcock, as a thick mist swallowed the hills beyond.

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Time for some more familair beats for the next month or so. I can’t take the failure anymore. I can’t remember the last time I fished for chub, you know. That sounds like a good plan. Chevin hunting, the odd grayling thrown in for good measure and steps from yesteryear re-traced.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman