The inside line on fishing
The inside line on fishing
Thursday12th - Friday 13th August 2010
I finally got around to a night session at the gravel pit after weeks of talking about it taking a non-angling pal with me, arriving late afternoon to give me plenty of time to suss out a swim with the marker rod. Casting around revealed that there was a lot of weed about in front and to the right of me, getting denser the further out I cast. Fortunately a couple of areas to the left at close and medium range seemed fairly weed-free so I chose to put one bait out on the top of a small plateau in 7 feet of water at about 35 yards, with another bait positioned closer in at the bottom of the slope where the water was a few feet deeper. I also baited an area in the margins about two and a half rod lengths out where the steadily descending marginal slope suddenly dropped from four to seven feet, lobbing in half a dozen balls of groundbait and a pouch of corn.
As the light began to fail everything was ready and I loosely baited the area around the marker with a dozen balls of groundbait before casting both rods out, groundbait moulded around method feeders. I recast the rods every hour for the first few hours before the clearing sky allowed me and Ben to sit back with a brew and some grub to watch the shooting stars resulting from the passing comet. The patchy cloud proved troublesome but it was good to see anything at all considering I'll have to wait 133 years to see it again. The night was pretty quiet but the occasional line bite and fish rolling in the moonlight over my baited patch kept me optimistic of a fish or two.
At about 3am a disturbance in the margins caught my attention and I got up to see a pike about two and a half feet long chasing tiny carp and small rudd in the shallows before silently sinking into deeper water, apparently successful in it's efforts to secure a meal. My bite alarms were proving unreliable throughout the night, probably due to dying batteries, and I cursed myself for forgetting to pick up some spares. The night was fading at around 5am, and as Ben snored quietly in the bedchair I was faffing about with the corn rod's alarm, swapping the batteries about with a variety of old ones in an attempt to find a pair that contained enough juice to see the session through. I took the rod off the alarm laying it alongside, intending to re-bait with a fresh corn-stack and re-cast it once I'd finished pratting around with the alarm. On picking the rod up to reel in I felt a weight on the line assuming it was weed, although slightly puzzled as I knew the area to be relatively weed free. Then the weed kicked back and I realized that a fish was hooked. Recognisable as a bream by its fight (or lack of it) I was soon slipping the net under a fish that looked about 5lb or so, but as I lifted it from the water to the mat I realized it was considerably heavier than its small frame suggested. On the scales it went 8lb 8oz and was a good three or four inches thick across the shoulders, making up for in width what it lacked in depth. Ben was wide awake by now and did the honours with the camera before I slipped the chunky bream back into the lake.
As the light grew so did our appetites and a panful of sausages was soon sizzling away on the stove to be washed down with a huge steaming mug of tea. Glorious! The lake was coming alive in the early light with lots of activity in the margins from small rudd and bigger fish rolling all over the lake. Dropping one rod short, replacing the method feeder with a blockend design and a big bunch of maggots on the hook I hoped to attract one of the lake's big eels. I've had them longer than my arm and as thick as my wrist in the past, estimated to be around 5lb, but have never successfully held on to them long enough to see them on the scales! Just after breakfast I had a screaming take on this rod, the fish steaming irresistibly out into the lake before the 6.5lb hooklength snapped unexpectedly shortly after striking. Closer inspection revealed that the line had parted close under the swivel, leading me to believe that a hastily tightened and under wetted knot had weakened the line. I suspected that I only had myself to blame for losing this fish and cursed myself accordingly for losing what could well have been a huge eel, a big tench or even a decent carp through sheer carelessness.
More bites were forthcoming as the morning wore on with an eel of about 3lb coming to a paste-wrapped homemade fishy boilie tipped with fake corn less than ten minutes after recasting, readily identified by its jagging and windmilling fight, and several hand-sized rudd on maggots to the marginal rod. It's great to see so many small fish in the pit again after years of seeing very few, and as I've not seen a single cormorant on the lake for several years when you used to be almost able to count them by the dozen, it is an encouraging sign for the future. We packed up and headed home at about 10am, pie-eyed and keen to get a decent kip and were loading the car when we both saw a spider on the backseat that looked to all intents and purposes like a Black Widow. That woke us up sharpish, but the beastie evaded capure for closer scrutiny, scuttling off into some dark crevice or other that neither of us were willing to poke around in. If I'd seen that exact spider on a David Attenborough documentary about Australia I'd have known it was a Black Widow, but in the back of my car by a gravel pit in Gloucestershire I couldn't really believe what my instincts were telling me. Ben, also not shabby in his knowledge of the planet's various creepy crawlies had the exact same opinion of what we saw, so I know I wasn't seeing things through lack of sleep.
Still, there is an exotic plant nursery nearby, and maybe they've imported a stowaway or two...... To the best of my knowledge, one of them still lurks somewhere in the back of my car...........
On the plus side every time we've fished together in the past we've blanked, leading Ben to begin regarding himself as a bit of a jinx, but with a nice chunky bream to show for the night's efforts we drove happily away with the fishing jinx broken, and long may it continue to be so!
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