Sunday, 1 April 2012

Big Pit Bream - Where a Season Ends, Another Begins

Hanningfield is now well and truly under my skin, and it was there, floating about in a boat, that I realised how much I love the idea of fishing in waters where there's chance of a British record. I've been thinking about that ever since and planning to visit waters where that chance is real, rather than imagined. I don't care how remote the chance is, so long as there is a chance. Take the Dorset Stour for instance. It once did  provide the roach record, therefore my mind says its capable of doing it again, therefore, fishing it for roach last month was sauced with the idea, no matter how remote the chance, that it could happen to me.

Truly though, there is really only the one place in Britain where catching a record roach is actually feasible rather just than a pipe dream, and all it takes to be in with a chance is to book into a hotel for the weekend, because guests have the right to fish their lake amongst the members of a closed carp club who control access otherwise. As for silver bream, well you know what I think on that score. I have only to drop a bait in the water five minutes walk away from home to be in with a chance with them. There's also a day ticket water I know of, and used to fish occasionally, where there's a real chance of breaking the tench record because the best tench recorded from it was an impressive 14lb 2oz specimen, the eighth largest ever from British waters, banked just five years ago. That no-one fishes that lake for tench, and that all the tench caught there are regarded as nuisance fish by the carp anglers and dismissed without a second glance, only serves to fuel my interest. I will be going there at some point this spring, if I can make the journey.

Digging lobworms from my local patch, a very productive farm field local to me
that gives up otherwise expensive worms by the hundred, in a very short time.

I hasten to add that I only dig a trench in the headlands, and not in the crop!

Hanningfield is similar in that all it takes to be in with the chance is to pay your money and fish. Weston Lawns on the other hand, is never going to provide the chance, but because it's local and does throw up the occasional biggish perch I've fished it a lot in the last year, but very unsuccessfully. I think I am cursed where that fishery is concerned because I have never caught a perch over a pound and a half, despite everybody else having taken two and three pounders from it. For some unknown reason I cannot do it. The baits are the same, the tactics the same, but they just won't come to me. Therefore, I decided that my session there with Martin Roberts on Friday night was going to be my last ever, and I would never return again.

Once again, I caught a perch just under a pound and a half, but what a disappointment fish this was. The bite as always came from the margins, was struck, but the fish was in the net within three seconds of it. The result was the most tired looking perch I have ever seen in my life ~

The fish had the head of good fish but the body of a small one. Clearly a spawned out hen in rather parlous condition after dumping what must have been up to a half pound of eggs. Flabby in the belly, dull in appearance, and out of condition, the fish more or less confirmed my instincts that not only is the perch season over now and that fishing for the species should not be resumed till Autumn, but that my time at Weston Lawns was truly done with.

Martin didn't have any perch, but did have a sturgeon of three pounds or so whilst sat talking for most of his session to a local lad who'd had his first twenty plus carp that morning. He seemed fascinated by float fishing, never having done any of it in his short angling career, and by the time he had to go home, seemed ready to give it a go for himself, Martin having bent his ear in the right direction.

Next morning we were off to a local pit to do some bream and tench fishing. I was after a double-figure bream specifically, having wanted to break that barrier for some time (before trying for a record!) and was geared up accordingly. Or at least I thought I was. Tying up my rigs, I pulled on the knot to test its strength, but the line parted like cotton. Trying again, thinking the knot had been badly tied or that a nick in the line had caused it  fail, it happened again! and again, and again...

The 8lb line, which had been on the reels for a year or more, had simply deteriorated in the month since I last used it, and where it had held out perfectly well against a large pike for the ten minutes of what was a heavyweight bout, to the point where it had only the strength of line a quarter of the strength. So. my first hour was spent re-spooling both. Such a faff on the bank, isn't it?

By the time I'd got everything sorted and had my own baits in the water, Martin had fed his adjacent swim and had the first bite of the day. Even at range it was clear that he'd hooked a bream, the fish plodding about sluggishly rather than powering about as the tench of this lake tend to. As it came to the net it was clearly a good fish, and as it came over the meshes and flopped into them we guessed seven or eight pounds, then nine as we saw it fall over on its side. When I lifted the fish clear of the water I thought she might go a little more than that but when we parted the meshes, it was clear that he might well have a double-figure fish on his hands.

The scales were zeroed carefully, and the fish hoist on them. Ten-pounds, and, and, twelve-ounces. It's a new personal best for Martin! Not bad, on what was his first cast after a tench or bream from this water, eh?

I then thought we'd get bites, because my experience of this lake suggests that if you get any bites at all, then you are destined to have many more, but the majority of them, liners. Three hours later we'd not had another between us. Not even a twitch. I went over to talk to a local lad fishing round the corner. He'd had a couple of small tench, which was encouraging news, and we talked for ten minutes about this and that. Then a familiar face appeared around another corner. It was Pete Shilton in civvy uniform, sans rods, out on a recce for a new water to fish, but who'd found none to his satisfaction, and had come back to one of his old waters for a look about.

The conversation went on and on. I made my way back to the swims half an hour later than I'd planned, where the hilarious conversation was resumed three ways. Anglers do have a lot of crap to talk don't they? What had begun as a serious mission for me, had descended into farce, as I'd not had my rods in the water for longer than a few hours. It didn't matter though. Martins double had removed all seriousness from the air long ago, so now we just had the chance to be social. And noisy!

Later, while Martin and Pete were standing over my swim looking on, I had my first bite. The bobbin rose, and fell, then jangled about. A bream bite. It was missed though, but it didn't seem to matter at all. It could have been my chance at a double, but it mattered not one jot. Sometimes fishing, even catching, takes second place, even when it's fishing that you're doing in the first.

King of the Castle! You dirty rascal...

The day closed some time after Pete finally departed, but three hours after he'd intended and thereby failing to get home in good time to put the meat in to roast, with just two bites received, but after big bream I've heard that's all you'll most likely get anyhow, and even catch one if you're lucky, which I wasn't, but Martin was. It was payback time, for a Bury Hill session two years gone, where I'd had a double-figure zander, but where Martin failed to catch one. It was great to be there on both occasions, for my own success then, and for his now.

Soon enough my day will come round...

And that elusive 'double' will grace my net again.

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