March had been kind to me despite the far from ideal weather conditions with the cold frosty nights followed by bright sunny days we had been experiencing and April looked like it was continuing along the same route.
Easter weekend was to be spent mostly cooking outdoors, talking nonsense, and possibly wetting a line at some stage too. For the first time this year I was going to have a social with a genuinely likeminded friend ‘Fennel’, who also loves a little bushcraft/fieldcraft type living, mostly aimed around sleeping outdoors, cooking, drinking, and actually fishing when we get around to it.
Fennel was grateful for his role in the newly formed ‘Wild Carp Trust’, meaning he was able to travel to investigate certain waters containing very old strains of carp. Fortunately, the water we were visiting contains a rather unique strain of exceptionally long, lean, wild-like commons that live alongside some mirrors and more modern strains of common.
Although these ‘more modern strains’ are still very reminiscent and almost certainly direct descendants of the 1930’s era Galicean carp.
We arrived in separate vehicles, parked up, kept our nervous distance, and took a steady walk around the lake. Good Friday and just one angler there, perfect. We were in no rush to get the fishing tackle out and after a lap of the lake I offered a can of cider from the back of my Land Rover. It was so good to catch up face to face rather than the distant phone calls or worse still WhatApp messaging. Although I think we have now written enough for a couple of books in our Whatsapp’s to each other. Perhaps a new future classic...
‘Drop me a WhatsApp’, with apologies to Mr Walker and Ingham for their great classic. ‘Drop Me a Line’.
Anyway, the conversation flowed and the light became noticeably darker before we decided we really should go and have a cast. A little bit of bait had already been trickled into some likely places, so although we had not actually cast, we had in effect been angling effectively by keeping the hoped-for feeding areas clear of lines for the first hoped for visitors to gain maximum confidence.
An area was chosen where we could view plenty of the lake rather than where we thought the fish might be. I like this approach when I have time, priming areas and watching, whilst building the carp’s confidence rather than jumping straight in on them.
We did spot fish, no-where near where we were fishing, but good information to log and later to follow up on.
It had turned dark, cold and frosty and with it looking like we possibly had no fish in the swim we had started in, we wound in and popped back to our motors for a drink and a meal. I love venues like this where you are safe to leave gear in the car and move around uncluttered with the bare minimum of kit. A sort of base camp scenario to recharge the brain.
A little more bait scattered in the dark without the disturbance of a lead following it and I felt we were building ‘safe’ areas nicely. Not masses of bait, just the odd handful here and there. Enough for the carp to enjoy, but not enough to satisfy them. So, each patch was a baited patch preparing them for the next tiny patch they found. It is a quite different way of baiting to what I see on a lot of venues. Several quite tight patches of 10 – 20 boilies scattered around a largish area.
Saturday dawned very cold. I hadn’t bothered with a brolly or shelter, simply laying out watching the stars with a sleeping bag and my Outhaus Wool blanket over me. I like the heavier feel of a wool blanket rather than the more commonly used sleeping bag covers.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, others had turned up on the Saturday which messed with our plans a little, so a lot more time was spent walking and looking. In fact, it was early afternoon before I felt I had found an area offering a chance of a carp. A small lead cast into very shallow water in a bit of a sun trap was to prove to be a good choice. I had hoped to connect with one of the incredibly long ancient strain commons for Fennel to take a proper close examination of, but I could hardly be disappointed with the 20 lb plus common that slipped into my net. Half a Rock Pool Rahja pop up over half a Rock Pool Rahja bottom bait was just what tempted that fish. I had flirted a few half 15 mm’s in the area too.
Fennel came along to see this fish anyway, so I invited him to take that side of the swim over as I had seen other activity since netting the fish.
Well, he was just sinking his line when it all tightened and an explosion on the surface in the shallow water revealed another common. The water is quite snaggy, and I urged him to walk the fish away rather than try and pump it away from any potential danger. He soon got the upper hand on a good fish and with it in relatively safe open water the hook fell out!
We fished on until hunger got the better of us and then back to the motors for another meal and a re-plan of attack.
Well, the extreme cold weather on the Saturday night seemed to put an end to any more chances that weekend, but I certainly couldn’t complain with my start to the month which saw very little actual line wetting time.
With the various lock down rules my 56th birthday was a rather lonely affair if I am totally honest, so the time spent with Fennel a couple of days before was something I was quite thankful for. A quarter of the year had passed by without me being able to have even a distanced face to face chat with a mate. I know we can all chat on the telephone etc but I had missed seeing the facial expressions. Living alone does have the odd draw back as well as lots of positives, but I had never anticipated being totally isolated and unable to travel.
This last birthday was one of the few I never got out for a few hours angling; I really did not feel motivated. This has been the biggest issue I have had during these long lockdowns. I have really struggled to motivate and lots of things seem to have taken much longer than they would have done in normal times. It’s strange how a simple forced change of lifestyle can affect you so much. I can only say that I am thankful I have managed to keep going though. Some who were so used to freedom, simply lost the will.
It's getting heavy, so back to the one thing that always brightens my mood, being able to angle and finally another local venue which had been closed throughout the lockdown re-opened.
Totally different sort of angling to what I had done the previous weekend. A larger pit which is usually terribly busy, so it was a case of choosing an area for the weekend rather than where the fish were showing when I arrived. Chances were that I wouldn’t have many options to move, so it would be a case of setting traps where I thought they would end up and settling back to chill with fine food. It felt so good to just simply be able to crash out in a bivvy again breathing in cool fresh air.
A single magpie had greeted me as soon as I stepped out of the Land Rover and to many, that is a rather bad omen. I greeted it and tried to be its friend; a tilting of its head was a possible acceptance.
First session with the larger water kit of the year and I realised I had left my distance sticks at home. There is always something. I was choosing between 2 swims and the missing distance sticks made my mind up for me. One of the swims was the last one I had fished during the Xmas break so the pole elastic marker knots should still be in place.
I carefully walked my lines out and they were, so I tied fresh ones in case the old ones had perished, and I was all set to go back through the motions.
With it theoretically being the end of the first week of the season after a 2 month close I presumed a lot of bait would have been fed, so I purposely just sprayed the general area with an air bomb, rather than tight pockets of bait from a Spomb, which they see loads of.
I had not been fishing long when Mark Hutchinson rang for a chat. We had only just started (about 20 minutes into the chat LOL) when a slow drop back occurred on one of the rods. I mumbled ‘I’m in’ and wound down fast, bent the rod around, picked the phone back up and blurted something like ‘I’ll call you back’.
At first it didn’t feel particularly large seemingly allowing me to wind it effortlessly to my margin. In reality it was still bolting to get as far away from where it was hooked as it could for in the margin the rod literally slammed around and I found myself backwinding and losing as much line as I had gained. I know this because my marker knot went back out through the guides again!
That fish really fought hard, it was a real stubborn fight and it was an age before I could get it back into my margin. It was one of those horrible sort of fights where the line keeps pinging off of them making you think you have pulled out before the rod wraps back around hard again. All held tight though and soon I was peering into the net at a definite 30 lb plus mirror. A glance to the sky and the gods of Sir Izaak were thanked for letting the magpie know I’m a good egg.
Now we all get things wrong at times and I left the recast rod undisturbed until I left on the Sunday. I’d had the odd unexplained bleep on bite time the following day but had dismissed them as fish bumping the line and I was certainly not wanting to crash a lead in among them. When I wound in, my hook point was firmly impaled in another bait. There was no way I could have hooked a fish on it!
I could hardly complain though after the fish I started the session with.
Unbelievably I did exactly the same the next trip, a rod came back with my hook buried in a bit of bait from a stick mix this time, whilst ringing the changes.
My fourth and final trip of the month saw me on a third different venue. I hadn’t been settled the week before. Too much negativity with anglers saying the fish weren’t well and some were covered in ulcers. All I can say is the fight from the 30 had been as hard if not harder than usual. It had certainly appeared fit. But I guess after so long not seeing people, when I did, I didn’t want to listen to doom and gloom. I packed my bags and searched elsewhere.
The venue I chose gave me the peace and tranquillity I strive for when I escape the telephones in the office. I have fished the venue for around 7 years now and loved my time there. It’s quite a tricky venue but it does release enough of its prizes. During these 7 years, I have never seen a tench landed and only ever seen 4 swimming around. 2 together and 2 x single views in 7 years. Well, 7 years on and I landed a 7.02. Yes, a total accidental capture but I was genuinely pleased to see my first ever tench out of the water there. Now I have caught larger tench, but that one really did give me a buzz and only the day before I had commented to the baliff that I find it amazing the tench don’t seem to get caught.
The tench was on a Rock Pool Rahja again, it’s the main bait I have been fishing with, making the most of it before I have to share it with the world.
Until next time, best fishes to all.