Ide give my bottom dollar (Entry 210)

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Early crucians (Entry 209)

The fish filled the bottom of my landing net. Bullion. A little paler than I remembered, no doubt from sitting in deep water for so long, over the cold Winter. There was numerous lice in residency, and two leeches, sure signs this fish has not long since woken from its slumber. The pull of the warmer marginal water, now sun soaked, had won over. As had the carefully presented hookbait amidst a sparse helping of free offerings. From my point of view the float barely moved. Indeed, it was not a vertical motion that had indicated a bite, but a horizontal one, as the float wandered from left to right in the tiniest way imaginable. Enough for a strike though, especially when there had been precious little movement for so long.

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I didn’t realise until in the midst of it but I had really missed this process. The careful plumbing up, the faith that the fish would turn up, that a few pellets could really pull a group of fish into the area. And the fight. That glorious thumping display, long pauses where they seem to hang and use their broadsided shape to make it as hard as possible to budge, especially on very light lines. I suppose you cant talk about a crucian fight without mentioning that moment where they just, well, give up. Funny little creatures thats for sure. Gloriously pretty, though.

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I’d taken a fair number of roach during the first few hours, some to a reasonable size, but the crucians had been absent. The night had been a cool one but now the day was warm. Really warm actually, wall to wall sunshine, with not a cloud in the sky. There really wasn’t. Apart from the strong wind that made bite detection problematic at times, the hours were passing far too quickly, especially as at the time a crucian had not graced the bank. Once one had though, I could really relax and take it all in. Usually when you can get to this state, a crucian zen if you will, more will undoubtedly follow. As proved to be the case before a rogue carp gatecrashed the party.

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Just how I had it on for so long using a 2lb hooklength is beyond me, but inevitably the double-figure bully found a way to shed the hook, leaving me amazed I lost the fish to hook pull rather than a break. I couldn’t find a way to add anymore crucians to my list, even the roach were playing much harder to get now, my two handfuls of gold was enough. With a hungry groaning starting in my belly, and with the air now feeling much more chilly, as seven o’clock drew round I decided to draw this session to a close. More than happy, of course, with the first real crucians of the year.

Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

Anglers Paradise; a lesson (Entry 208)

I was ready fifteen minutes before the alarm was due to go off. Everything present and correct. Mattress to swim in less than fifteen minutes. Bliss. The sun had not yet rose but the water, of the specimen orfe and tench lake, was already alive. Small fish, presumably orfe, topped regularly, whilst from the bottom, small bubbles were sent up by unseen culprits. You needn’t be Einstein to work out just what was responsible for them. I found an area of the lake with a pronounced plateau to which I could fish a heavy waggler down the side of. I was quite happy that with regular feeding, little and often, I would be able to have the best of both worlds. Tench on the bottom to start with, then later, big orfe caught on the drop. I began to feed pellets with the catapult whilst I drank the first tea of the day and devoured a Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer.

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My first cast, some thirty minutes or so later, produced the first fish of the day. A classic sail away bite, slow and pronounced, and my strike met with weight. A pale tench came to the net, all creams, pinks and pale blues. It was certainly a surprising catch even in this place of crazy coloured fish. Once returned I began to take a golden tench after golden tench, all around the pound mark, but as much fun as this was there was no sign of anything bigger moving into the swim just yet. The sun had long since risen and at a guess, because I’d let my phone at the villa, I felt it was around 9:00am. With the rising warmth now was the time to shallow up the rig ever so slightly, split the shot into much smaller ones, and start looking for fish higher in the water.

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The bait fell much slower now, and came to rest at dead depth, instead of the many inches over. I’d like to say that within minutes the plan worked, but in all honesty, it was more like an hour. Patience rewarded me with a fine orfe, a golden one, at well over three pounds. It fought like a wet sock until under the rod tip where it woke up and darted erratically. Once in the net the fish took on the persona of a grass carp and went absolutely ballistic. Thankfully it calmed down just long enough for me to get a picture or tow, before I released it, well rested and in fine fettle.

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Throughout the day, interspersed between literal handfuls of gold, I caught seven big orfe. The best a lovely blue orfe of over four pound. All the fish were in great condition it has to be said. As the sun began to slowly sink behind the hills I made contact with a much bigger fish. At first I though it was a tench, but the non-urgent nature of the battle, told me I was connected to an orfe. A very big orfe. Tense seconds dragged. As the fish neared the net I could see it dwarfed the biggest fish of the day. Adrenalin surged. Hands trembled. Then the rod sprang straight.

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Lets step back a little. You see, on the cast I made, the cast that would see the bait taken by the biggest orfe I’d ever hooked, I had an inkling there was something not quite right with the hooklength. A wind knot. A nick in the nylon. Something like that. The cast though was perfect and came to settle in a beautiful part of the swim. I’ll change the hooklength when I reel this back in, I thought to myself. Three minutes later I came to regret that lazy decision. Lesson learnt. If in doubt. Reel in. Change the hooklength. Change the whole rig if you have to. Just don’t do what I did. Don’t be an idiot.

I didn’t let this mishap spoil the day though. Finishing off with the smallest, but most colourful fish of the day. A deep, deep colour flanked this tench. Proof if proof is needed, that a fish doesn’t have to be the biggest, to be the best. Or is this something an angler tells themself to ease any woes brought on by fishing like a golfer?

Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

Anglers Paradise; a beginning (Entry 207)

Six days of fishing. Not exactly wall to wall angling, but pretty close. The long drive, marred by a colossal tailback on the M5, seemed now so distant as I sat and watched the finely dotted float tip. I had only an hour of daylight left before it would be too dark to see, but I knew the before then, I would have captured my first colourful fish. Indeed, it took around ten minutes for the orange tip to vanish, replaced by a tench of similar tone, a golden tench of around two pound. It fought spiritedly, it looked splendid, and welcomed me to Anglers Paradise in style.

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After an evening of eating and drinking, and a later than intended nightcap (or three), I thought it best to make a leisurely start to the next day. A stroll to the local shop first to pick up some breakfast items, then at a sedate pace, I prepared for a day on the Float Lake. The Devonshire weather was certainly shining. A clear blue sky, deep and saturated, stretching as far as I could see, lifted my soul. The sun warmed my back as I made up two rigs ready for the day ahead. My cup of tea didn’t touch the sides. Neither did my bacon and egg muffin. I was going to enjoy this.

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With such warm conditions the resident koi were easy to spot. Plenty cruised in the upper layers. Their pearly colours dulled only by a few inches of water between back and surface. Tail fins occasionally created vortexes. Floating morsels were suck down with a sharp slurp. A fine float rig was set a foot deep and baited with slow sinking bread. Within minutes the koi began to fall. In the first two hours I caught twenty. From a pound to around five, they obliged, taking the bread without any hesitancy, and fighting like fish twice their size once hooked.

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By mid afternoon the fishing became a little tricky, but a steady rain of 4mm pellets catapulted regularly brought a succession of golden tench to the net, as they took the bait in the upper layers of a five feet deep swim. That’s if they beat the hordes of tiny rudd to the bait. I had over forty of these beautiful, hard fighting fish, each one unique, some with red fins, some with white. Some with black spots whilst others had none. They all shared a black button eye and the same dogged attitude of their green cousins. Along with a smattering of blue and golden orfe, some sizeable golden rudd to just under a pound and a few rogue F1 type hybrids, I caught on virtually every put in over the next three hours, amassing more than a hundred fish and savouring every second.

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By late afternoon I’d had my fill, my arm ached, and my second flask had long since run out. Time to wander back to the villa for some food and a hoppy beverage. As I packed away, at my feet, the koi began to forage in the margins of the lake. For a moment I was almost tempted to have an extra hour fishing for them. But I resisted. I had plenty of angling ahead of me. Tomorrow, I had a day on the Specimen Orfe & Tench Lake booked, and preparing for that now would ultimately serve me better than a few more koi on the bank. Or so I hoped. In less than 12 hours I would find out.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Doorstep to doorstep (Entry 206)

I headed to the local canal this week, a place I have had a few attempts at fishing in the past few weeks, simply because it takes minutes to get there. When time is short, I’d rather spend an extra hour fishing than driving an extra hour simply getting somewhere to fish. With a rise in the water temperature I expected that the fish would be willing to feed, but this being a canal, you shouldn’t get too carried away. Fine lines and small hooks are still a must whilst the water still has clarity and forget about piling in bait. Especially when you are after roach.

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Believe it or not, after feeding a palmful of hemp at the start of the session, I fed just three casters every fifteen minutes or after catching a fish, to keep interest without feeding them full. The canal I am fishing has a typical natural venue cycle; the first hour is positive, then the fish become cagey. Then is the time to re-feed and rest the swim, sometimes for half an hour or longer, and this will see the fish return. Today was no different. Using a long crystal waggler, with a foot of line on the bottom, I was able to slow the bait down adequately against the canals natural tow. The bait still moved, but very slowly, something that roach cannot resist at times. In fact, my second cast produced a bite, a small roach to start with at 6oz. My next cast however produced one of a much better stamp.

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This roach was well over a pound, though not quite two, and fought like a tiger. For their size, and on balanced tackle, I can never get over just how hard roach fight. Fooled on a single caster with a size 20 hook buried inside. I was overjoyed. A true gem of the canal in the middle of a bustling city centre. I guess the busy banks do go some way in keeping the cormorants at bay, especially so when said banks are flanked with apartments, dog walkers, or someone having a sneaky cigarette on their balcony. They all help. After that fish I continued to catch 6-8oz fish, over 15 in fact, before losing a roach even bigger than the first. My heart dropped to my shoes. A lull in activity followed, forcing an earlier than intended re-feed of hemp, and the consumption of my sandwich. Time to rest the swim and lick my wounds.

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The gamble paid off, thankfully. Half an hour later, on my second cast, I hooked the second pound plus roach of the day, smaller than the first but still as magnificent. A brace to be proud of. A few small perch then turned up, which I never think is a good sign to be honest, before out of the blue I hooked into another good fish which took the caster on the drop. The rod locked up, the fish jagged hard and ran, before shaking its head where the hook, again, pulled. A silvery flash was my only glimpse of the fish as it swirled down into freedom. I dearly hoped it was a hybrid or a chub. In fact, I know it was. I can’t even begin to consider the alternative. And that is all I am going to say on the matter.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

 

A hint of spring (Entry 205)

For once I set out in beautiful conditions, conditions that, dare I say it, felt like the middle of spring. The air had a serene stillness, one that allowed the quiet birdsong to resonate, sounds that would otherwise have been swept away on the wind. A largely dull day was forecast but the air temperature was good, nearly into double figures, as it had been for a few days prior. I was looking forward to this. The rivers were out of the question though, topped up to the brim by heavy rain, so once more I headed to a small stillwater with no bigger ideas than simply whiling away a few hours in the hope that at some point, my float would disappear.

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As this was an impromptu outing, bait was a few small pellets left over from last summers tench fishing, plus a few worms still hanging on to life behind the shed. And being a mixed fishery, one with all sorts of species (even ‘Heinz 57’ type species), I was confident that at some point in the day I would have a few bites. I set up to fish two lines comfortably; the pole being my chosen tool for the day. With two areas plumbed up and fed I did what I usually do and left them to settle. Of course, I had a cup of tea and a wander around the lake whilst I did so. Upon my return I threaded half a worm onto the hook and tried the nearside swim. A roach took the bait almost instantly, then a rudd, before a fighting fit common carp gatecrashed the party.

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After a few more roach and rudd, I re-fed both lines, and had another brew. The open water line I planned to leave well alone for another hour. Let any fish there really grow confident on those free pellets. In the meantime I fished two worms on the hook in the nearside swim, hoping to tempt a bonus perch or another carp, but the next sixty minutes passed uneventfully. I could wait no longer. I really needed to see if there was anything further out. And there certainly was. On the first put in, the float vanished, mere seconds after settling. At the end of a thumping battle a crucian/goldfish hybrid of over a pound lay defeated in the net. Not one for the purists but good fun nonetheless.

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And so it went on, feed, bite, feed, bite. As simple as you can get, with plenty of fish coming my way over the next ninety minutes. Goldfish, crucians, hybrids, small carp, a rogue tench and a few more roach. I have no doubt I would have carried on catching, albeit for the pellets running out, I would have fished it until darkness stopped me. But it was not to be. The prettiest fish today was a two toned goldfish, not a Ska-loving fish of course, but one that resembled an upside down sunset scene. If you really squint. On my way back to the car I spied a patch of flowering snow drops under the canopy of a small tree as well as a several patches of daffodil already well above the surface and looking proud. Spring really isn’t far away. Right now, thats a lovely thought.

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Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman