Keith invited me along to a local commercial fishery after big perch the other evening; he'd heard reports that the water concerned had thrown up two giants in a recent match, both over four pounds and both still at large! How could I refuse?
The thought of fishing a commercial is a bit of a step into the wilderness for me, having seen only a few and them by accident when looking for other waters. Not that I mind comfortable fishing, far from it. One of my favourite pegs on the Warks Avon can be driven to and parked behind, had nice mown grass on which to sit, a convenient concrete bank at the waters edge, running water and toilet facilities just a short walk away - however, the river out front has flowed since the last ice age and the fish in it are as wild my hair.
I wasn't even sure if a stocked fish from a commercial fishery no more than a few years old would count in my reckoning of what and what does not constitute a fair catch. But then, most lakes that contain fish are stocked and managed one way or the other, and rivers too have their introduced aliens such as barbel put where they ain't supposed to be, and of course that very spot where I can park and fish is also the place where I fish for barbel....
Stockies, one and all.
The complex of lakes were created upon a hillside, a terrace of lakes all the same kind of size, from what I could make out, some thick with brown sediment in suspension, others as clean as a whistle. Ours was the very top lake and looked, actually, OK with its reed fringed margins and grassy banks. We chose a couple of swims next to each other and set up for perch, Keith with a Google special, a fancy paternoster rig for his sleeper rod involving a submerged float that was to hold his lobworm off bottom and waggler tackle for the silver fish. Me, well I opted for a running ledger and a big lobworm, a bit of bread dangling from the line between the butt ring and the next to give a running perch, a famously resistance shy fish, a bit of free play and on the float rod a three swan shot waggler nearly 18 inches in length and holding up another big lobworm that I was to cast as far as possible and twitch back every thirty seconds. I thought, given that big perch are rare anywhere, that even in this comparatively small lake, the concentration of big perch to volume of water was going to be surprisingly small. Covering lots of water seemed the best way to go.
I gave up on the twitching after half an hour and set up with a homemade waggler with a thin insert when I saw Keith next door oiking out some very good roach!
On the first cast with the waggler into a patch I'd been baiting for some time with turmeric flavoured maggots saw a lovely clear bite that resulted in the hooking of what seemed a pretty good fish, a perch perhaps we both wondered, but then it all went limp wristed and in came a bream of a couple of pounds. Keith came over to my peg just after my recast, me fiddling with stuff and not paying attention and the sleeper rod went off. He saw it, I didn't - needless to say I missed the bite...
Could have been one of those monsters, I thought, and so immediately put on a new worm and recast to the same spot. Ten minutes later and off it went again only this time I struck just so. Fish on! A perch without a doubt!
In it came, and the worm was bigger than it!
Greedy little perch, all the same, eat anything that moves and of any size.
And for the rest of the session that was to be pretty much all, apart from a few small roach, that I would catch. Small pest perch...
Keith meanwhile was having lots of fun bringing a solitary rudd and a succession of nice roach in the upper ounces range to hand. You'd think that on a commercial lake the fishing in two consecutive pegs would be similar wouldn't you? Not a bit of it,
I was certainly holding the shit end of this particular stick! And nothing I tried changed a thing - all that came were more small perch, and the sum total of all their weights combined would have given change from a pound. Ah well!
We stayed into the dark and rigged up floats with starlights, Keiths glowing like a little chunk of kryptonite against the inky black water, and mine almost too dim to see at all, it being a piece of cheap crap from a pack of two, the first being actually worse than the second and even the supplied bit of clear tube didn't fit the damned things and I had to concoct one out of a bit of heavy stuff found in the bottom of my bag! By cheap, buy twice, n' all.
Still it was good fun, and fishing with a partner is always good on the conversation front, talking about fish and fishing, about all and everything to do with this frankly strange and luck bedeviled art of angling.
Oh, Keith has just texted me as I write. He's catching some much needed zed's...