Thursday, 29 January 2009

At long last! Success at Grassy Bend

I've been obsessing about the need for me to catch less chub, more and larger roach and quite frankly, any damned perch. I've changed tactics in order to work out how to do this and now sport two rods on the bank so that I can experiment with baits and presentation
and refine tactics till catching these species is less a matter of luck, and more one of judgement. Of course I still stick out a lump of meat on the heavy rod on the rivers because the chance of a good chub, or even a barbel, is not something to pass by, just yet.

But I'm not having much luck with the light rod. Not much luck at all. I've had a few small roach, and a conspicuous absence of perch, but in the short time I've spent pursuing these species, a monkey could have done a better job than I.

I woke today with a feeling that to go back to the canal and fish the same spot as before, the spot where I actually managed to crack my local canal roach duck, would be a good thing. It would be strictly worms, both legered, both fished light on three pound hooklinks, and both on the quiver. Specimen tactics indeed. And so I went, with Molly to keep me company and provide light comic relief, to my favoured spot.

Fishing at Grassy Bend

It was cold, very cold, the canal channel funneling a chill breeze across my back. And the fishing was slow, the rods motionless against the far bank undergrowth. After an hour and no bites whatsoever, I decided to walk a few yards up the bank to investigate another possible swim, not for any good fishy reason, just my seeking a spot less chilly. I saw a rippling of the water over to the far bank and in the centre a shape that looked like a floating dead fish. I thought perhaps that it had just now popped up to the surface filled with the gasses of decay, and this had caused the ripples, but then it began to move. It was a bream of two pounds or so and it was trying to swim, unfortunately it had no tail. It was very much alive, but the tail had been bitten through, or sliced right off, by propellor of boat, or by jaw of pike! Poor thing.

I upped sticks and moved to this dolorous spot, despite the dying bream. It just felt right, as if something might happen. I cast a lobworm out to the left and over to the far bank, and out to the right put a smaller dendrobaena. Then I sat back and continued to freeze, polishing off my hip flask of whisky sip by sip, and throwing Molly a ball. Nothing happened for some considerable time but I just left the baits out there till something, or indeed nothing, did. It felt like carp fishing. Sit and wait, and wait, and wait.

Molly loves fishing!

Two hours after moving to the spot I was seriously considering packing it in and consequently was failing to concentrate, but then the lobworm rod trembled and tugged around. Luckily I spotted it just in time and though late on the strike managed to connect with a decent fish. A roach or perch I hoped (for the canal does have a head of chub!) and it felt a pretty good one. As it approached the net I saw a flash of silver and knew it was not only a roach, but quite easily the largest roach I'd caught in donkeys years. I actually had to net this fish, and that was something of a novelty to me, as I don't believe I've ever had cause to net a roach. It had easily engulfed the entire lobworm without a problem and it was a fair size actually, around the pound or so mark, I reckon. Not a big fish by the national standard, but not exactly small either, especially on a canal in the dead of winter. A good start for my serious roach fishing, and in the right direction, which is upwards, as ever, I think.

My biggest roach for decades

I felt immediately warmed through after this minor success, certainly enough to cause me to fish on and into the dusk for that perch I was talking about, but as it transpired I would fish on without another twitch. I packed up when I saw the headlamp of a narrowboat beaming, in the failing light of dusk...

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