September 26, 2015

We Meet Again

I took Nicky for a drive on Wednesday afternoon, the sun was shining and there was the promise of tea and maybe a cake. What she had not spotted was the bag of boilies and a catapult secreted in the rear of the car. I had ulterior motives.

And so our rambling journey happened to take us to my syndicate lake where the obligatory look around brought about a decision - I must fish here and bait was duly introduced into a favoured swim.

I had physio the next morning but talked her out of the usual agonies and hurried home to throw the last few bits and pieces into the car before heading off with a renewed enthusiasm. I was genuinely concerned that somebody may beat me to my prebaited spot but a look across the field as I descended through the woods confirmed that once again, I had the entire pool to myself.

I casually set up and put a couple of rods across to the gully that the fish seem to follow on their amblings. An hour later I had a bite but it was just a small bream that came in with the verve and attitude of a plastic bag. It's brethren spent the next few hours rattling my bobbins without result but doubtless reducing the amount of freebies left in the zone. I rectified this with some replacements, catapulted at the 'pult's extreme range. An arduous task but I couldn't find my throwing stick.

After a meal the sun was soon setting and the temperature plummeted. I read in the bivvy until a mixture of Bill Bryson's description of the Big Bang and BB's account of goose shooting had a soporific effect and I switched the light out for the night. I'd like to say it was restful but the owl that decided to sit about 2" above my head whilst continuously calling for a mate meant otherwise.

A lone raven woke me in the morning and I peered out to a cloudy start. I hate leaving the sleeping bag to get going but a coffee or two did the job and I rebaited then changed the 'snowman' set up to have a bright yellow pop-up on the top for better visibility. The other rod was left with 10mm boilies on the bottom.

Around 10 am I had a screaming run and a very hard fighting fish powered off up the lake. It then turned and, with equal strength, went off in the other direction. From bite to net it was a mighty tussle but, at last, I had it on the scales. At 27. 9 I was well pleased. A fit looking fish with muscly flanks.
Ian, a fellow syndicate member turned up and did the business with the camera before heading off for his chosen spot and a night's fishing.

My mid afternoon coffee was disturbed by a single bleep as I reached for the milk in the coolbox. The right hand rod was again bending and, as the clutch let go so a screamer of a run set off. This fish was not a fighter and it lolled about with copious amounts of weed hanging from the line and the fish's head. Despite having lowered the second rod into the water, it still managed to pick up this line and, as it's nose broke surface so the hook popped out. Ah well, I'd had a fish so I wasn't too upset.

The evening was even colder, so much so that I dropped the front flap of the bivvy. As I closed it I looked at the rods and thought "Please don't go off tonight, wait until I've had a good sleep". The owls were less active and despite the chill playing havoc with my bladder, I had a lovely kip.

I woke to a freezing morning and wrapped myself up in the sleeping bag for a bit of a lie in. Bleep! B.b.b.b.leeeep! "I'm coming!" I said as I opened the flap to see the left hand rod bending to the right. I'd switched to a similar snowman with the yellow 'head' on both rods and a carp had nobbled it. It again went fast to the right and I leaned hard against it whilst walking left and holding the rod low.

My efforts had little effect on the fish and it was kiting dangerously towards an overhanging bush where it would have doubtless found sanctuary. Not wanting a paddle on such a cold morning - I was in a T'shirt and a pair of pants at the time - I gave it some more stick and the fish relented and turned. It headed for open water where I let it have a good run about hoping to burn off some of its energy. It became ponderous and I felt I had the beating of it but, as it got within eight or ten yards of me, it turned and ran hard for the far bank. I was starting to realise it was a good fish...... and feel the cold.

Eventually it slipped begrudgingly over the net and was mine.

I rolled it onto it's side in the water to slip the hook out. I immediately recognised a scar on the left pectoral fin and knew that I had recaptured the big fish I'd had in June but had had to discount. A quick lift of the scales and a personal best was confirmed at 36lb 4oz.

I popped it into a sack, dressed and made a hot drink. It was 8am. "Morning dear, you didn't want a lie in did you?"  To be honest, Nicky loves to see my better fish and was happy to make the long drive just to take a few pictures. She really did enjoy being part of it although the dog was far less impressed.

What are the odds, the same big fish from the same swim on the same bait (Quest Baits Rahja Spice), in two trips three months apart? Others have fished this swim and it's produced some good fish, even bigger than mine, in the mean time but my fish showed no signs of hook marks other than the fin scar. There you go, just one of those little mysteries of angling and I for one, have no complaints whatsoever.

September 17, 2015

A Cracking Session

Usually, when I'm not fishing, I would spend a lot of time maintaining my gear, change line on the reels, sort the hooks and shot back into some sort of size order, that kind of thing. However, I just don't seem to have done that of late. This has made me lazy and, for example, I've grabbed a reel just because its got what looks like the right breaking strain line on it rather than its suitability. Most unlike me.

In fact, the only notable kit maintenance I recall was when I was presented with a 'stuck' landing net handle. I'd bought two identical ones and mine was still fine but Neil's had jammed solid. He has less patience than me... or anybody really, so I swapped, heated the twist lock and free'd it up. I did have a small fire but felt happy that I'd done the job to my usual low and sloppy standard.

Using a mixture of kit that came readily to hand, I've had a couple of brief adventures this month that have rewarded me with two modest chub on trotted bread and a blank.

I did have a weekend trip planned on a venue that I've been eager to fish for some time. Its one of those special places that you may only fish once in your life but which fills your thoughts and dreams by an inordinate amount. I shall say no more at this juncture, not until I make it a reality and alas, it won't now be this year. I had a 'test' fish today and it has confirmed that I will have to put Shangri La on hold.

I was a little adventurous in my choice of swim today but felt that I had to test my resolve. The 'special place' would involve a long drive, late night and little sleep followed by a day sat in a fishing chair. Such lengthy activities are still a bit far off which was further underlined by today's effort.

Nonetheless, I picked a swim that I felt was right for the conditions and fed it with a mixture of various soaked pellets and some small Questrami boilies. I spent a few minutes taking the wee-wee out of a couple of mates (like you do), then settled down to fish. My first cast lasted about fifteen minutes.

Neil arrived from his swim downstream asking for the scales. I duly ascended the north face of the Eiger and took a few pics of his nine pounder. Back I trudged, through base camp and a long descent dodging avalanches and angry natives to make cast number two.

Three minutes later and I detected a movement on the line, the strike was pure instinct and, I hoped, not too soon. It was perfect and a powerful fish ran hard downstream. My rod was right around and the old '66 gave line noisily from it's wonderful clutch. I turned it but it was hell bent on reaching Chepstow. But, continual pressure and some dogged heave ho'ing had it in the net and it was my turn to disturb the Boy - which makes a change.

At just over nine it was my first barbel of the season! Ah well, its not a bad average I suppose. I lowered it in the net to release it when there was a faint 'snick' and the landing net handle broke just where I'd had the fire.

With Neil's help it was returned safely and the net recovered. And so ended my session.

Nicky was surprised by my early return but was pleased by my capture and amused by the net fiasco. Ah well, looks like I've got to catch up on some tackle maintenance.