Wednesday, 8 April 2009

And at last, the canal comes good!

It had to happen one day. The canals that had been the bane of my fishing life of late, would at some future time, perhaps when I found that certain 'right' spot, used the right technique and baits
, when the fish populations woke up from their winter torpitude, or combination thereof, actually become somewhere where fishing, and I mean active fishing that can be worked hard at for good returns rather than the passive chuck it and wait, dead rod style fishing (that I dislike so much, but up till now had had to practise) was actually worthwhile.

I went back to the spot that I'd been fishing for the past few sessions and cast as before. I'd been doing this particular spot only because it was the only place on the stretch where I could force a bank stick, not because the fishing was any better there than anywhere else. I'd had a few fish but the roach were absent, and that was cause for a move, and the wind was stronger too - more of a cause to move than any lack of fish, and beside lack of fish was something that I'd come to expect as normal here. I stuck it out for an hour and caught a small skimmer...

When I'd had enough of the insistent breeze, I upped sticks and moved along the bank to a nice still area sheltered behind a high hedge and buildings. On the opposite bank I spied a rat slinking around in the undergrowth, going about his ratty business, invisible to those locals dwelling in the houses above him who would if they knew about him, sentence him to poisoned demise. I set up opposite his rathole home and proceeded to bait with breadcrumb, canal black, hemp, casters and maggots, two lines - at the far bank and in the boat track.

About half an hour in and the boat track float dithered and sank from view. It was fish on, and then fish off. Just a few seconds contact, but it felt a very good fish. Ten minutes later and the float did precisely the same trick, but this time the hook held and up came a very nice roach - just under a pound in weight. Good stuff. Another roach came just after, only a six ouncer, but most welcome - two roach in the same session - would there be three, or more? I didn't conjure up the possibility in my head, in case the chance evaporated, by the mere act of thinking it.

Unbelievably the float ducked a fourth time and I was attached to something fairly powerful - then I saw the flash of red fins and netted a perfect roach of a pound and four ounces. Well, I say, this really was turning out to be a red letter day...

A roach shoal. The very thing I'd tried so hard to locate, was living at the end of my road.

I cast once more, and brought the second rod which had been doing its duty on worm at the far bank, into the boat track too. It sank away and I was into the fifth fish and the fourth roach of the evening. Amazing. Only it was a skimmer! A good skimmer of a pound and two ounces, but I dreaded to think that the bream had moved on to the bait that the roach had been browsing over forcing them away. As I was returning the little bream twenty yards away to avoid spooking the shoal, the other float sank from view. When I got to the rod and struck, the fish was ten yards from where it had plucked the bait. It felt a big fish on light float gear and I knew that if it was a roach then it was going to be a specimen to smash my personal best by quite a margin.

Up it came, and it was...

The biggest bream I'd caught since the age of thirteen. Two pounds, four ounces of net sliming young adult bronze bream. Not a fish to tickle my personal best for the species, some way short in fact, but if there's big bream about these parts then fishing for them over big beds of bait could be fun.

The light failed to illuminate my floats after the return of both fish and then the untangling and de-sliming of lines so I packed up.

So, to wind up. A short two hour evening session in which I had caught a grand total of six fish for a bag weight of say five and a half pounds, three pristine roach in half an hour, and all falling to active fishing tactics. It's not much to crow about anywhere else I know, but here on the local canal, let me tell you that it feels like cracking it wide open.

I think I'll need a keepnet...

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