Monday, 20 July 2009

Ah, that's better...

Looking back over the past couple of months, since the start of spring my attempts at catching fish have been one glorious failure after another. Absolutely no Tench which is normal for me, but only small Pike and Perch on lures when I would usually expect much better, what's going on? Next year I think my spring & early summer fishing will take a different direction. Anyway, the summer holidays are here now, time for a change of pace. It's the time of year when the kids and I head to the Fenlands for a spot of camping, fishing and relaxing. In the daylight hours we fish for silvers but when the light fades out comes the heavier tackle and I target the Zander. Whether I succeed or continue my run of heroic disasters doesn't really matter, the time spent in the countryside will be rewarding and relaxing.

With a car jammed to the roof with gear we left home in the early afternoon and had an uneventful journey west. On the radio was my other sporting passion, cricket and with the Aussies in the country and the ashes at stake I'll have a radio beside me for the rest of the summer. Anyway, things were going well, England on top and making steady progress. After forty five minutes of our own steady progress I was parking the car beside the floodbank and the children were scrambling to get out.

Madison was four years old the first time she spent a night here in the fens and Isaac was three so we settled into a tried & tested routine. They waved the whip around and caught a few fish in between running around the meadow, while I set up the tent and everything else. The afternoon was warm and windy with broken cloud but thankfully it was dry which makes the whole experience so much more relaxing. The recent storms had freshened the river up nicely, it had a good flow and a tinge of colour, bang on for the Zander I hoped. Meanwhile, at Lords England got a bit bogged down in the middle of the afternoon but Prior and Collingworth ground the Aussies down later on. By six o'clock everything was ready, the net was full of fresh bait and I had two rods rigged and ready for the Zander. I fished a running ledger with a bait popper cast upstream and a running paternoster rig in front of me. Both rods were baited with fresh lives and had a 'rig rattle' on the trace.

With everything ready the next priority was food so the stove was sparked up and the frying pan was soon sizzling away. The sausage and bacon sarnies were washed down with a hot cup of tea, the wind started to die away, the river looked in great nick and everything was right with the world. It was into this happy camp that Chris stepped shortly after the stove had cooled. While the kids ran around the meadow some more we chatted the evening away and Chris cooked desert, barbecued bananas stuffed with marshmallows and chocolate! A little sweet for me but the little 'uns devoured them enthusiastically. Chris & I were content to have a cold bottle of beer and it was shortly after this things started to go a bit strange.

We heard a sound from behind us and looked around to see a car on top of the flood bank, the occupants were acting very strangely indeed. After a while it became apparent that the car was stuck on the very top with both the front and rear wheels clear of the ground. Being helpful sorts we wandered over to see if we could be of assistance, the occupants were a young couple who were slightly embarrassed and the bloke was either very drunk or very weird. He spoke with a very educated (posh) Oxbridge accent and didn't seem to understand the more rural speech of us ol' country boys. The young lady didn't even get out of the car. With a lot of exertion we managed to tip the car and get it moving down the slope at which point the lady turned around, gunned the engine and hurtled back towards us at speed, barely giving us time to get out of the way. She successfully cleared the floodbank this time and parked the car in a more sensible place. Chris & I returned to the river and tried to settle back into the ambient surroundings but our new friends weren't quite as relaxed. They had intended to camp by the river but instead were having quite a loud argument which ended with the lady storming off and the by now obviously drunk chap wandering around cursing to himself and struggling to put his tent up. He eventually succeeded and thankfully soon disappeared inside to sleep it off.

As the light faded, the temperature dropped quickly, the kids retired to their snug sleeping bags inside the tent and Chris bade us farewell. I put fresh baits on both the Zander rods and settled back to await developments. I had very little confidence on the back of my recent fishing results and to be honest I didn't care too much, we were enjoying ourselves, that was the important thing. Around 11 pm the downstream rod, set up with a paternoster signalled signs of life. I wound down quickly but the culprit had removed my bait and transferred the hooks into some weed, typical! Just my luck! I re baited and chucked the rig back out, before I settled back into the bivvy I took time to look up at the millions of stars visible in the clear sky, something that never fails to blow my mind.

First of the season

The next thing I knew an alarm was shrieking at me, I staggered out and picked up the upstream ledger rod. With daylight beginning to lighten the scene I bent into my first Zander of 2009 and after a bit of a tug o' war through the weedbeds I soon had it in the net. Not a monster but a nice fish of around five pounds and after my recent poor run I considered it a result to actually land the fish I'd targeted! The rod was re baited and cast out, I settled back into the bivvy again; relaxed, happy but very tired. No sooner had my eyes shut, it seemed I was away again, a fast take on the paternoster rod. I bent into a decent weight of fish, was there a lot of weed on the line or was this the mother of all Zander? A long shape appeared in the growing light and there didn't appear to be too much weed on the line, my hope of landing a BIG Zander grew. However, as it neared the net it became apparent that what I'd hooked was in fact a decent sized Pike, a fish around mid doubles. I was slightly disappointed but hey, it's still a nice fish which was unhooked, photographed and slipped back with as little fuss as possible. Another fresh bait was cast into mid river, it was just before 5am and the sun was creeping above the flood bank, the orange light creating a rainbow through the cloud in the western sky, beautiful!

Not the mother of all Zander but welcome all the same!

My eyes opened again a couple of hours later, it was fully daylight and the kids were chattering away happily in the tent beside me. I stirred myself awake and put the kettle on, a cup of tea to wake me up before breakfast, more sausage and bacon sandwiches. Madison was happy scribbling in her notebook about the stripy caterpillars she'd found while Isaac sat holding the whip, trying to catch a fish or two. I sat beside him and peering down into the clear water I noticed a shape beside the keepnet, it was a nice sized perch, obviously attracted by the fish inside the net. First of all we tried to tempt this fish with a couple of maggots but it didn't want to know, in fact it seemed completely oblivious. We needed a livebait but all of ours were in the net and we couldn't get to them without disturbing the Perch. Eventually Isaac caught a Bleak on the whip, a little too big perhaps but it would have to do. I lowered it down, hooked up on a spare rod and we peered down into the water wondering what would happen. We didn't have long to wait, for some reason I'd expected the Perch to swim up cautiously and casually but as soon as this fish became aware of the hapless Bleak it just nailed it and disappeared into the weed, unfortunately I suspect the bait was too big for the Perch, either that or I fluffed the strike. Whatever, no Perch graced the net this morning.

That was our last excitement of the day. The children had a last run around the meadow and I tidied all the gear up with threatening clouds building away to the west, rain was on it's way. By late morning we were back in the car as the first spots began to splat on the windscreen, cricket would help the journey pass by quickly once again. These summer nights in the fenland tick all the boxes, nice scenery, wildlife, good company, nice food, peace & quiet and for once I'd even caught the fish I'd set out after.

1 comment:

mizlan said...

wow !that zander so big!...Great catch...