Thursday, 26 February 2015

Lords of the Piscine Punyverse — Gonna Need a Bigger Jam Jar (Pt 4)

In pursuit of the river's elusive gudgeon, last weekend I went back to the scene of the previous week's less than successful mission in order to fish alternative swims. Rain was predicted early morning but it didn't arrive till I'd set off so I got a little time in before the water began to rise. I caught roach after roach, but no perch and no gudgeon either. After a couple of hours I was soaked and freezing and as bites begun to peter out, when I snagged up and lost a hook I called it a morning unwisely spent and went back home.

It took almost a full day for the water to peak and very nearly a week to subside back to normal winter levels (I didn't think so much water had fallen as actually had) but yesterday afternoon it looked just so. Unfortunately, I had work to do, so I postponed the planned session till this morning.

Knowing another brief band of rain was on the way by late morning I thought I'd have hours to play with before the extra water pushed levels up and forced me off but it came earlier than expected and had been falling for an hour or two when I finally got out the door. However, on arrival it looked good to me.

A nice bit of colour and an upbeat pace to the river reminded me of the day I'd caught the big minnow. They hadn't been there when it was low, slow and crystal clear, so I hoped they'd be back in residence now it was running a tad faster, deeper and dirtier.

I float fished the swim hoping it would lend better control than free-lining had and that was a good decision because I could have the tiny worm section bait trot down or have it amble about in the far bank slack. Just as well because that's where the bites were and I had three minnows for my trouble before bites became hard to find. But I failed to catch any of the size of the lumps I'd had the first time out.

Nevertheless, it was the first chance I'd had to accurately weigh and measure minnows. So I set to work on my recording of them just like a proper scientist would. You know. With due diligence... 

However, it's not that easy! The merest breath of breeze sets the scales to work recording the force of moving air and a drop or two of water makes for unacceptable inaccuracies recording such very low weights. The trick is to add a little water to the pan to avoid having them stick to dry plastic, then zero the scales, pick the fish up by the tail so that excess water drops away and place it carefully on the pan. Then, take a reading during a break in the wind!

Seriously, you could gauge the gust force of a fart with these things...

I have to say that they were very well behaved and didn't flap about at all once on the pan so they were very easy to measure with the pair of vernier dial calipers. The smallest came in at 5.25 grams with a length of 75.8mm, the middling one at 6.05 grams and 81.7mm, the largest at 6.25 grams and 83.3mm.

None were anywhere near so plump as my 104 mm giant who was a full 20mm longer than the best of the day, whose tail and head would both overhang the pan's diagonal measurement of 100mm, and who weighed at least double that of the smallest and perhaps double the largest too. It  struck me looking at them swimming about in the jam jar that a fish any larger than Her Majesty would not fit in it with comfort...

But these today were ones that fit such a jar well. Your ordinary common or garden minnows.  Not those you'd write blogs about unless you were desperate!

I don't care, nor do I feel in any conceivable way, desperate. These fish are interesting and as I'm discovering the smaller they are the more challenging they are to catch and quantify. “You can’t just drop in somewhere and expect to get a little fish, you know” said the legendary Dennis Flack. And he was right. They take just as much time and effort to find and catch as any other specimen of any species would.

But then I felt my feet were wet and saw I was standing in the reed bed under four inches of water. The rain had caught me out once more and it was time to move on up to the pool where I spent a little more time in hope. But it was hopeless there. The water had risen a full six inches in one hour and was going to peak another foot higher later in the day. Though I had one small bullhead from the churning brick red water, minnows had ceased feeding long ago and so I went home defeated by the weather yet again.


  1. I hate rain.....especially when I'm fishing, some more cracking miniature leviathon's, keep it up. It will surely happen.

  2. Yeah, you were pissed off in both senses of the word this morning, James! Sorry to hear your session was a grey-water road-run-off no dicer. Hope the Dever is in fine fettle for you come morning...

  3. Awesome work.Just wanted to drop a comment and say I am new to your blog and really like what I am reading.Thanks for the share

  4. No remarks following recent tweets. Have I done incorrect procedures?

    1. Sorry, mate. This comment was in my moderation list but I never look at that because I have settings that allow all comments freely. However, some do get stuck there for no reason I can fathom. This was one one of them.

    2. Should be operational now then bud. Check out my Google site. Begun a float makers community. Still had few submitted.

  5. Forgiven for lack of IT competence. Just needed reassurance I m not being totally ignored. Lol

  6. Operational now then. In the meantime ,checked into purple peanuts site. Mike cootes. Company of float makers. Wonderful craftsmen. . Friendly and SO helpful. Cheers ,bro.