I took a morning dog walk along the canal the other morning and met up with one of my towpath acquaintances walking his new labrador puppy, and he had something interesting to say. We met last winter when I was roach fishing in the ice, he is also an angler and one who took a keen interest in my exploits. We talked about the size of the roach I'd caught and he remarked that they were quite an unexpected size for a canal. I've met him many times since and talked general fishy stuff, but this time as soon as he saw me he mentioned that a two pound roach had been caught in my winter spot just recently.
A reliable report ? Perhaps not. But there's no smoke without fire and I planned a return visit for the same afternoon to my old haunt. It didn't work out that way because Judy had other plans for my Sunday! A walk to Ansty and back.
The walk took us past the spot and as we passed grassy bend and entered the long straight up to Tusses Bridge I looked down and saw a tiny field mouse just frozen to the spot on the towpath. It was barely alive, looked as if it had taken poison or was exhausted, it could hardly move. I picked it up and cupped it in my hands and we carried the little thing along with us hoping that it would recover its strength so that we could release it on our way back at the same spot we'd found it, or make it a pet.
I knew it was going to die. And soon. Mice don't hang around unless they are so out of it they are beyond caring. Beyond Tusses tackle shop it finally expired with a death rattle so tense that the creature vibrated, then its claws drew up and clenched tight and its life flew away. It was deathly cold within a minute. We placed it in a bush, and walked on.
The next day I got out fishing and with a set of new floats to try out. Full of optimism I cast the first bait and waited, and waited, and waited. The spot that had been so hard in winter was equally hard now! Nothing. Not the slightest dip or dither. So much for a float field test!
I moved, and moved again, but the boat traffic was so bad that eventually I gave up and walked back to Longford and calmer waters. Here the fishing was no better, it was absolutely as dead as I have ever experienced. I ended up no further than the end of the road from home and settled into my last swim of the day, to tough it out.
I decided to patiently build a swim with maggots and groundbait out front and fish a sleeper rod with corn over to the reeds to my left where I'd once caught a tench. Nothing happened for ages then I saw the slightest dip of the float imaginable. A minute later it happened again. Then nothing. I watched intently as the first bite in six hours developed, then the float dipped slowly and calmly began to sink from view. I struck thin air.
Then I hooked the float up on an overhanging twig and lost it.
I retackled and this time chose a really thin float with a long slender tip. It took a full 6 no 1 shot to cock it properly, which surprised me. The swim was slowly coming to life, with tiny indications on the float telling me that something down there was finally moving around. Finally a nice slow bite resulted in the first of what was to be an evening of steady perch fishing, with fish arriving at regular intervals. Some of the perch were over half a pound so I thought I was in with a chance of a bigger one and finally he arrived. Just over twelve ounces, but what a fight! What is up with the perch at the moment? Every time I hook one of the bigger ones they fight like demons!
Well the day ended on a good note and the floats proved themselves beyond doubt. I have no idea as yet if the tiny indications registering were something to do with the caution of the perch, their confidence in feeding, or the fact that the floats were unusually sensitive, but I don't normally see such tiny movements on the canal, it's usually a plain sail away bite or sharp tugs.
I hope it's the floats with their streamlined shapes that's doing it but its far too early to be sure. Be nice if it was though!