March 28, 2012

Hot and Cold

The few trips I've made to my syndicate lake have been either spectacular or fishless which suits me just fine. I'd hate to find fish queueing up for the bait each time I cast and I'd struggle were it to be too difficult with many blanks. I was not therefore, too surprised that it refused to play ball on my latest venture.

I arrived in glorious sunshine and headed for a spot in which I've had success before and where I saw fish just the other day. It is an easy call, an area where fish bask during the day and where any fish following the wind or seeking out the change in water temperature in the morning or evening will have to cruise through, in sort, the ideal ambush point. It's a tight swim so I fished just the two rods and dropped one short for cruisers whilst the other went right across for the baskers - what could possibly go wrong?

Come early evening and the temperature dropped with an audible clang! The cloudless sky was a riot of stars with the new moon, Venus and Jupiter making a row of beacons, brighter than all around them. I spent ages just staring up until I felt giddy and began to shiver with the cold. I was in my sleeping bag very early and lost in a world of night noises most of which the dog insisted on investigating.

Just as I drifted into the darkness I was rudely shocked by a strident bleep from the alarm. I'm not yet 'in tune' with my Delkims so every noise they make has me leaping into action, familiarity will one day allow some interpretation but not last night and I sat bolt upright whilst the dog flew out of the open door and went to action stations, standing next to the rods in anticipation.

I gave him the order to stand down and relaxed once more only for a repeat performance; I swear that fish know when you are at your most vulnerable either dropping off, drinking coffee or having a pee!

They got bored with teasing me and apart from a small carp beating the surface with its tail, the night belonged to owls whilst the dawn was taken over by the ducks and a couple of noisy Canada Geese.

The night was really cold and I was glad to get up the bank and sit in the sun where it became extremely hot - hot and cold, this place in a nut shell. I gave it until mid afternoon and decided that it was still early in the year and I have the whole summer (and those lovely warm nights) to go camping, so I packed up and left, fishless yes, but satisfied and relaxed.

March 13, 2012

Another one enters the fold

High pressure and low, crystal clear water with the river being described as 'hit and miss' at best. Not my favourite end of season conditions and I was under some pressure to get a result as I had a little boy coming with a view to catching his first barbel. I say 'little boy', Richard is actually in his 40's, well over six feet tall and has size 15 feet! But when it comes to enthusiasm and just plain old excitement he's on a par with a ten year old on Christmas Eve :-) He's been constantly emailing me with hundreds of questions for about three months, each one seeing him bubbling with nervous anticipation so failure was not an option.

On Sunday afternoon in glorious Spring sunshine, Neil and I set off for the river to get the feel of it before Richard's arrival. I had two or three swims in mind but, as so often happens when you turn up at the river, others had similar ideas and although my chosen spot wasn't occupied there were people nearby. I figured that if I dropped in there and caught, there'd be a queue to fish it next morning. Plan B was put into action and I headed for an out of the way spot that, due to winter conditions, wouldn't have seen any action for several months.

Neil fished downstream, me at the head of the pool and we set about searching for fish. The sun dropped below the tree line and took with it the warmth, it got very cold but, as the light faded Neil was into a barbel - excellent, there were fish here to be caught. I ended the session with a decent chub and it was off to the pub for a swift one and an early night.

I have no doubt the Richard will cover his day in full on his own excellent blog (see the link to Richard's slant on life on my blog page), so I will let him express his emotional journey but suffice to say the day went about as well as can be expected. A barbel after 30 or 40 minutes certainly took the pressure off and with fish coming slowly but spread throughout the day, it was near perfect. Being present when somebody catches their first barbel is always a privilege and when that person has been on tenterhooks for several months the relief was palpable.

The moment of the day came after we had rested the swim for an hour or so. A guy was 'gardening' on the far bank, trimming every willow shoot that may interrupt the back-cast of his salmon anglers, so we had a dabble elsewhere in an attempt to get a grayling. That attempt failed unfortunately but I did tell Richard that resting a swim will get the fish feeding on all the scraps left behind and can build their confidence. We returned to our positions, Richard cast, sat down and immediately struck into another hard fighting barbel. Looking shocked and totally dumbstruck at the speed of events he just sat there, rod bent, staring at me with his eyes as wide as saucers and his mouth open in a sort 'O'. I laughed and said something supportive like 'don't just sit there get the bloody thing away from those rocks' and he shook himself back in control and landed the fish after a good scrap. I would love to have caught that image on film. Each of the three fish Richard landed was followed by a sit down and a spot of head shaking, I gathered he was having a good time.

I decided to have a dabble later in the day and soon took a barbel and lost another behind a rock. I sat there just savouring the moment, I felt truly privileged to have shared the day and to have watched someone take the first step to becoming a barbel angler. I sat back in my chair and thought "Y'know, one more barbel will do me for the season". I didn't really want to go out on a lost fish and just one more would bring my day to a perfect conclusion, then the rod leaned forward and the clutch began to give line......