Thursday, 23 April 2009

A Glass Half Empty...

I had every intention of following through with my so called 'controlled experiment' by going back to the same spot and fishing regardless of what was present. All or nothing. I set up and fished for perhaps half an hour, but unfortunately for my experiment, my trusty angler instinct had kicked in as soon as I sat down
- there would be no fish here! You just know these things, don't you?

Then what happened was that my trusty angler instinct really kicked in and drove me off upon a search for fish. Dick Walker's first rule for successful fishing was 'first find your fish' and of course that is absolutely correct in every case, only finding fish on a canal is a very subtle art indeed - I mean what are you actually looking for?

Bubbles are good - but they don't necessarily mean fish are making them

Topping is best - but on canals finding topping fish is often impossible

A good feeling - because yonder tree is pretty and swim looks fishy, but this only works when it works, if you catch my drift.

Let's be clear about this, fish often give the game away, but much more than often, don't.

I went walking and kept my eyes peeled for signs, and then when I'd walked perhaps half a mile, I finally saw a fish topping in the far distance. As I approached another ring of bright ripples appeared nearby, and the deal was settled - I'd found my spot.

I cast toward the far bank without even plumbing depth, but the float shot under before I had time to think. I missed the bite. Next cast sat there for a while but I knew a bite would come, and when it did I struck into a pretty half pound roach - yeh! This could be good, I thought, and then another sail away bite was missed. As I drip fed the spot with maggots I noticed the activity in the swim was become quite intense, large bubbles were popping everywhere, and fish were topping all around - clearly fish were competing for the free offerings.

Again the float shot under, but this time I was attached to something far larger than I had ever encountered on the canal. Slow and ponderous, not taking line but not giving either. It came near to the bank and I thought I should try to get the upper hand, a little pressure to force the fish to the surface, but the fish was having none of it and towed me back to the opposite bank and without any trouble - putting the float rod and three pound line under about as much strain as it was capable of taking. I then decided that softly-softy catchy monkey was not only best practice in this particular situation, but actually, the only choice!

This ding dong battle of wills carried on for some considerable time. I'm not used to big fish getting even with me, usually the tackle is more than powerful enough to turn the fishes head, defeated ultimately by the art of the right pressure applied at the right angle - but with this flimsy rod and light line, nothing I tried, even full side pressure, made the slightest difference - the only way to turn the fish was let it get to either bank where it would turn because it could go no further in that direction!

I thought I was going to be there all afternoon, but after ten minutes the hook pulled, fish and man parting company.

"Oh buggeration, I never even saw what it was..."

Of course the swim, after all this commotion, was killed to death, right?

Err, no. The fish were not only still in residence but were actually boiling and bubbling like never before! The trouble was, that from that moment on I simply could not hit a bite. I missed probably five clear classic sail away bites in rapid succession - it happens - one minute you can't go wrong, and the next you can't go right - that's fishing, and it happens to the best of us.

I decided, in my infinite wisdom, that a few small balls of ground bait might help. Why I thought this, I have no idea, nothing but maggots fed lightly every few minutes had gone in so far and it had worked beautifully. As the walnut size balls hit the water the effect was, shall we say, interesting. Bites stopped, bubbles increased, fish went crazy, and then as if a switch had been flicked, promptly vanished. The swim fell eerily calm.

I flicked the float out and well away from the area and sprinkled a few maggots around it. After five minutes it sank from view and a twelve ounce roach came to the net. A fish with very pale grey/pink fins, indeed so very pale that I couldn't see 'roach' for some time and was on the brink of declaring the fish, Rutilus Hattus, a newly discovered species.

It was not only the last fish of the day, but the last sure sign that fish ever swam here.

It was all quiet thereafter...

1 comment:

  1. speaking of a glass half empty....

    what's your PHONE number?