Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Canal Tench — Small Reward

Well, I opened my canal tench account this afternoon. Have had two sessions prior though. One with Keith Sunday evening when we both blanked outright on an evening when fishy interest was very hard to come by in persistent rain. And a couple of hours on Monday morning when I managed to wangle a single half-pound roach from three or four pernickity bites. 

Changeable weather patterns affect canal fishing more than other venues because they have even width and take circuitous routes and so they are assaulted by wind in very complex ways. But a nice steady spell of warmth and calm will see it balance up, I'm sure. And I think were about to get just that.

Today was just as useless even though the weather was more settled than it has been of late. No interest whatsoever for an hour and a half and then this little lady came along. I do think she's the smallest tench I have ever caught in a canal.  Nevertheless, I progress another couple of notches up the canal board because of her and what was the scabbiest roach I ever caught anywhere, I reckon.

So scabby in fact that I couldn't take a picture and embarrass him further...

Good to see young tench here. Recruitment is good and the future of the population assured. Not so good to see roach in bad condition, though. Not worried unduly. The usual run of them are plump and pristine.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Canal Tench — This Useless Hour

Wake at 4am. Try to get back to sleep but orexins have already kicked in and are firmly lodged on my receptors. That's buggered my circadian rhythm then, which I guess I'd better realign with an evening's alcohol abstinence at some point soonish...

What on earth can be done with such a hushed hour of the day? Pad silently about the house in dressing gown and slippers at a loss for things to do — make a cup of tea — look out the window at nothing happening. At least my inbox isn't yet cluttered with pokes from friends I didn't know I had or alerts that 26th July is some company's birthday I'll never buy a thing from.

Met Office says there'll be rain by noon but it's a mild dry morning and I think to myself, 'what the heck'. I'll get dressed, bike down the cut, and go earn myself a handful of challenge points if I can't find good reason not to. Will catch something. Might catch well. I hunt around the house for good reasons not to, nevertheless, but there's none to be found. Fishing, I decide, is about the very best thing that can be done with this useless hour. 

For reasons of health and safety not a lot of leisure activities are allowed here. You might die from a 40KV arc, or be beaten to death by irate basin inhabitants.  No soul has had their days  concluded by either fate in living memory, and the fishing, even though carbon rods actually throb in the electrified atmos, is always worth the risk! 

What I really enjoy about the early stages of such competitions as this, is this. They allow me to go fish uncluttered by the baggage of wanting lots of fish or fish that weigh lots. I can just go out and catch whatever there is to catch without vision funnelled down the wrong end of the telescope. If one species won't play ball then play ball with another that will. Not catching? Then try another approach, move to another peg or indeed, another fishery. Caught what's sufficient? Then go catch something else sufficient. Everything counts, and time is not wasted wanting what you can't have.

Hell, I'm even thinking of taking along two types of bait next time! 

But on this morning bait will be bread and ledgered too because bread is in the bag from Friday night and a bread ledgering rod is made up in the quiver. I might be wide awake but I'm still lazy. Target at my preferred spot will be firstly, tench, but I know that bream will show for sure. And roach, rudd, silver bream and hybrids are possible too.

And it doesn't take long for the first, which as expected is a bream. Not worth the weighing, though I guess a pound and a quarter. There will be better to come for certain. And 20 minutes later, sure enough, 13 snotty points flop into the net in the form of another just under three pounds. My chosen spot is nothing if not predictable.

There's a couple of friendly lads fishing nearby. They've enjoyed an overnight session, have lost a big carp too, but they have a little nugget of information for me that I think might just make a big difference here. A zander was also caught in the night but on a large bait that I'm very familiar with but have never employed on the canal. But it wasn't that a zander was caught that was the interesting thing. What was, was that nothing else was. Though all night long their buzzers were beeping and their bobbins jumping...

Sport today isn't as frantic as it can be. There's days here when just a piece of bread flicked to the right spot and without ground bait about it will see fish hitting the net every five or ten minutes and a thirty pound bag amassed in just a few hours. But this morning is steady. A bite every twenty minutes or so and mashed bread needs feeding regularly to keep the pot on slow simmer.  

A brace of slightly smaller bream show but then a huge wrench of a bite flies the tip around bending the rod to the rest and I'm connected to what's briefly a very convincing impression of that tench I came for.  But, the initial burst of speed and power soon falters and I see what I reckon is a hybrid coming in. Never mind. She'll do. They count too.

Shame she wasn't a proper roach at 2lb 2oz. Nonetheless, my improper madam earns a very respectable 29 hybrid points, rounds off this two hour session for a total score of 42, and progresses my name upward a notch on the leader board. 

All went according to plan bar the lack of tench. But there's always the evening to come when I think they may well show themselves and show themselves to a new bait. Might just stay out late and correct the tempo of my days.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Avon Roach — Bloody Peculiar

Finally, I have my license to fish and with a trip down the Avon planned for Friday evening I think I'll rack up a few scores on the Blogger's Challenge board and begin to give the lads a run for their money. My approach will be ledgered bread, an art form I am overly familiar with, and to be honest, finally tiring of. But it does tell me a lot about a new stretch of river that other approaches cannot.

It usually works well at getting bites and pretty much instantly. If bread loving fish are there to catch then you'll know within five minutes and usually less. And the beauty if it is that with enough experience under the belt you can tell with certainty which species of fish they come from before you hook and land one to prove it.

It's raining now and will rain all evening long by the look of it. Setting up first in a complicated pool with hundreds of options to choose from is not great where roach are concerned should they be the target. I don't even think roach like pools very much. I don't think they enjoy complexity, you see. But I cast about for bites, here and there, and everywhere, when I soon find a spot with fish in it. But they are not roach — too bouncy. I think either gudgeon or dace. Sure enough it's dace but very small ones. Nevertheless, three ounces of dace earns 14 points...

After half an hour or so I try a plume of faster water exiting the willow occupying almost the entire width of river upstream that has made this pool more complex than it ever would have been before it fell. There I get a roach bite. So I sit on my hands and wait out the initial quarter inch twangs for a more progressive and confident one inch take. In comes the first roach of the evening followed soon after by a half-pounder worth 12 points. Hoping I have a shoal at my disposal and possibly fish of decent size I find two is all I'll likely get because no more bites come.

On retrieve there's a jolt and a tug and a strong response deep down. A good chub perhaps, or even a big river bream with any luck?

No such luck. It's a bloody jack pike! But it's worth five bloody points...

It snaps the line in the net so I try to extract the hook lodged in its jaw. Of course it flips at just the wrong moment and punctures my thumb. Great. My reading glasses are at home and now I have to tie up another spade-end without the aid of focus. And the blood will likely flow for the next hour or more knowing something of the anticoagulant properties of the slather on pike teeth...

I think one more cast back to the spot will suffice and then I'll move along. I'm packing down for the move when in one brief second the rod lurches toward the water, springs back hard and then swings straight and level toward where the fish is headed, which is under the willow. There's nothing there. The hook is gone...

Damnation. Another tie up to perform...

Of course I'd failed to take the precaution of washing the blood off my thumb before baiting the hook, turning innocent bread devilish. Should have remembered that other strange day at Saxon Mill when on consecutive casts I caught both pike and perch on bread with the scent of my blood on it. I make a mental note to prick my thumb on a pike tooth next time I go piking proper and rig up a great dollop of bread as bait, because I'm sure it'll be the pike bait nonpareil.

Enough is enough and so I trot downstream in search of chub passing Martin and Joe on the way. Both are after barbel but they've had a small chub apiece, so maybe I'll join their club with one of my own? Settling into a new swim, and this time one that really does look very roachy in it's dull simplicity, I cast out and get roach bites straight off the bat. Another half-pounder flops into the net but then the bites stop.

On the retrieve there's a jolt and a tug and a strong response deep down. Yep, it's another tie up for me.

Just how powerful is the attraction of the scent of human blood to pike, eh? And how very little do you need to taint bread with to bring them to it? The flow abated half an hour ago, I've washed my hands, and had them covered in roach slime since, but still they seem to be able to detect it.

River score board 24/07/15
One more move and I'm done. I want a chub and will have one. A cast down the inside line finds me  chub bites. Unmistakable ones. A second cast nails it, though till I see the fish I'm not that sure it ain't another jack. But it heads under the raft of weed under the staging and gets stuck fast, when I'm certain it's a chub and certain to get a few more points should I extract it.

Just under two-pounds in weight it may be, but is worth 20 points...

Martin and Joe both go home without improvement though both catch more chub and Martin has a barbel too. But that's barbel fishing for you. When it comes to strategic scorings and tactical time management, once you have a scrawny summer eight or nine-pounder under the belt, you may as well leave them till early next springtime when points will be very hard to acquire across the board and then fish all out for a big double when they're fittest and they're fattest.

We plod across the field each weighed down with a stone of extra water about us and go home soaked and freezing, but I've a grand total of 51 points for four species to tally which pushes me one notch up the leader board and into 8th place on the river board.

Now, 51 points in an evening may not sound so great an achievement (think 4:12 chub) but small pike, roach, dace and chub combined trump by one point the barbel of ten-eight that might have taken me a whole week's worth of work to nail this time of the year but might weigh 12lb or more come February...

A bloody peculiar day, for sure, but not without its reward!

Leader board 24/07/15