A brace of brook roach...
An afternoon opportunity arrived quite unexpectedly, the tinkling brook, the local cut, now which was it to be? Both were now quite fishable, the flood had long subsided, and all the ice had all but gone, a small matter undecided...
OK. That's quite enough of that nonsense...!
It was no contest. I do love to fish the canal for roach, mostly for sheer convenience it being right on my doorstep, but also for the undeniable fact that they do run big, but today had stream roach written all over it. The stream is a good long walk distant and as I strolled through the park on my way to it, I cogitated upon the fact that a good walk prior to launching a line helps clear an anglers fuddled mind, improves both demeanour and deportment (essential when approaching roach) and quite often loosens the bowel. I turned around before I'd gone so far that I couldn't. I can shit in the woods with best of 'em in the warm months, but in winter it's an activity best performed at home, I find.
Finally en-route and nearing my destination, I stopped off on the way to my regular haunts to fish a large circular pool that had formed upon a corner. It looked good, but it proved fish-less. I then I decided to go way downstream beyond my usual swims and sample what the stretch there had to offer, but it turned out that despite looking very good for roach, it actually offered very little in the way of them. Perhaps the fish were playing very hard to get? The only way to find out was to abandon my reconnaissance and fish the known - if bites came from my regular swims, then I 'd know that the places I had just tried really were sans poisson.
It's a horrible face that the suburbs present after a cold snap, isn't it? I hadn't noticed the filthy banks on previous visits, the snow had smothered all and rendered the worst invisible, but since then a billion gallons of brick red snow broth had thundered down the swifts above and flooded this benign stretch - the water's retreat leaving behind a tide mark of discarded products and packaging - archaeology for future generations to enjoy perhaps, but it made my eyesore.
I've been playing about with the self timer again, you can tell, can't you?
I settled into what is now the standard swim, the benchmark peg, the spot where bites will occur from the first cast and sure enough - first cast, first bite. Unfortunately the bites were once again hard to connect with, my improved manner of bread presentation, the refinement that had brought such bounty just prior to the flood, had been rendered inoperative by the passage of time and water. I think I need some proper bread punches...
Eventually a bite came that was confident enough to strike positively, just as a dog walker passed by in fact; the fish was hooked and, after a spectacularly acrobatic fight - the fish performing a convincing imitation of a trout by doing what I have never seen a roach do and leaping a full foot in the air, it was landed. This was a roach just too big to be ignored by the dog walker who's raised eyebrows gave away the fact that he was mightily impressed by the sight of a stamp of fish that he'd never ever thought possible in this ditch. An angler, possibly, or at least someone who knows one, probably. It won't stay my private pleasure for very long if I make the grave error of catching good fish in plain view now, will it?
After this fish things became even more difficult as bites would be found here and there, and I was forced to chase them, swapping from the one place to the next continually. The fish were obviously more mobile in the warmer water and moving about quite freely. I had a four ouncer (by far the smallest fish yet seen here) struggled hard for more, eventually and through sheer persistence added another immaculate roach to the tally of pound plussers, and by a single ounce.
Meet Flotsam and Jetsom..!