After enduring such a fruitless and frustrating exercise as my week long short session assault on the cut had been, it was a blessed relief to set out at seven thirty in the morning and be looking forward to an entire day sampling the delights of the angling equivalent of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the much derided but actually very pleasurable if you are in the right mood, multi-puddle commercial fishery.
Ours was just a short ride distant, Brookfield Fishery near Bedworth, Warks. Five pools by the M6 motorway that between them contain just about everything that swims in freshwater, one way or the other. Keith was gunning after fishing challenge points from the off with a two pronged pitchfork assault on the lakes cyprinid populations, upon which he hoped to spear seventy pounds of king carp and more than five pounds and eleven ounces of brown goldfish...
In the same day!
I had no particular plan for points; starved of bites since the end of the river season I just wanted to exceed my quota and catch far more fish than strictly necessary, morally excusable, or even if things went really well, legal...
I started off on the brown goldfish pond while Keith (and later, Pete too) chose the carp pool to begin with. It became plain within just a few minutes that the goldfish pond also had a population of rudd and roach of small size - of course I then wondered if it also contained large rudd too. I flicked a few crusts out to the middle where they drifted unmolested for half an hour before I was alerted to fishy interest in one particular piece. I stood up to take a closer look and witnessed a golden coloured fish of two or three pounds engulf it whole. Whether or not it was a rudd worth pursuing or just a small carp was not clear, but it was enough to give me the drive to seek the rudd and so I adjusted my tackle accordingly, fishing for the next hour, shallow and on the drop.
The swim was patchy, a rudd here, a rudd there and none of any real size so I moved down the pond and into the far windward corner where I thought the rudd would gather to pick off all the surface titbits that would be blown there during the day. First cast I had a rudd of four or five ounces which was twice the size of any caught thus far. This gave me just the drive I needed to sit and plug away at them for a while so I put out the keepnet and proceeded to pursue a fishing challenge rudd point.
Sure enough a constant stream of rudd of ever diminishing size fell one after the other to the slow falling single maggot. I tried bread, which was slow sport but sorted out a slightly larger stamp of fish, and corn which was even slower but resulted in no particular improvement over bread and so was quickly abandoned. Later I lengthened the terminal tackle so that the bait would sink all the way to the bottom but still I got the blade rudd. Eventually I loaded bulk shot near the hook and had the bait whiz down past the ravenous rudd and into what I hoped would be brown goldfish territory - for the size of the rudd had by now diminished to the point where gaining a rudd point would now require me catching not tens of fish, but hundreds!
With the bait safely on the bottom I then had my first goldfish to bread flake, but an orange ornamental fish, not the brown variety! This was followed over the next couple of hours by another ton of rudd, some roach to red maggots, another couple of different coloured ornamental goldfish, two skimmers and a solitary perch.
Around lunchtime I brewed up a welcome cuppa on the Kelly Kettle and more through hunger than angling necessity, cracked open a tin of spam. I decided to put out a spam and corn cocktail on a sleeper rod after watching a couple of five pound carp cruise through the margins and spook at my moving shadow. Ten minutes later whilst supping my fresh brew I notice that the sleeper rods float was AWOL and the line was tightening as a fish made for the reed beds - I hooked up to something fairly powerful and heading straight for the snags. As it came to the net I was amazed to see a pair of big white rubbery lips...
It was a chub!
After the commotion of this fish the swim seemed devoid of exotics and so I once again shallowed up and decided to fish hard for a rudd point as I had since learned that Keith and Pete had both earned points, not for carp or brown goldfish as planned, but for gudgeon!
From then on it was rudd or nothing. I reckoned I had a catch of three pounds of the little pests in the net already comprising of what seemed like hundreds of fish, and needed a further two pounds or more to clinch it. I worked furiously for the next hour and a half having a fish every chuck, but three to the ounce I reckoned! At times I was striking before any indication on the float and hey presto, it was fish on. I kept it up as long as it felt like fun to do and then decided that enough was quite enough, downed tools, lifted the net and hoped that I'd passed the four and a half pounds that is the British Record for the species.
Looking good. Zero the scales for the wet net and what do we have...?
Five pounds one ounce! There's a perch in there and a couple of small roach, so subtract a few ounces for them. and...
Oh yes! All hail the blade master!
I packed down the light float rod and dragged my gear down to the carp lake for a final evening spell of heavy float fishing for a bonus carp. As I arrived Pete was playing a fish on the distant bank and then Keith, who had had four fish already and was on something like forty pounds weight and in feasible reach of the seventy he needed, hooked another.
My float rocked and dithered as fish became interested in the crushed pellets I had strewn all round the whole halibut pellet hookbait. After twenty minutes without a clear bite I wound in to find a baitless hook, the pellet having cracked and dropped off, probably. I recast and within just a few minutes the float dithered and travelled slowly away, the strike meeting with a powerful fish which proved to be a common carp of seven or eight pounds.
Keith lost another fish, I missed two more bites, Pete had had carp and lost carp and all of us had further points on the challenge, with me and Keith neck and neck on three. I must say that I had a great day's fun fishing with a total of seven individual species caught, my first still water chub, three personal best ornamental goldfish in a row, a ridiculous bag of ruddlets and, for a commercial fishery, a surprisingly perfect carp.