Friday, 30 October 2009

Heaven & Hell

A last minute change of plans gave me the opportunity to spend a night and a day at my favourite place. The car was hastily loaded and I was on my way, driving through drizzle and gloom with a plan fixed in my mind. If I could get on the water in time I would motor off to a place where Rich had found a fish or two in recent times. Unfortunately a succession of 'Tesco' trucks slowed my journey considerably and by the time I had launched the boat daylight was fading fast. I chickened out of plan A, not wanting too long a journey in the dark but was not too disappointed as I had faith in plan B. I headed out and questioned my sanity as another drizzle shower was whipped into my face by a brisk westerly breeze. However the sky was clearing and as I nosed the boat into the reeds the beautiful sunset away to my left made everything worthwhile.

As the light faded I quickly got three baits out into the water, two float ledgered deads were fished fairly close to the boat, a sardine adjacent to the reeds and a bluey a little further out. As I was anchored securely the third rod was rigged up with a ledger rig using a running 3ozs lead and baited with a mackerel. Some people frown on ledgering from a boat but if it's done correctly there is no problem. All three rods were fished with tight lines and ET boat biter alarms. With the rods out the boat was tidied up and organised so I knew where everything was and could reach it with ease. I was then able to settle back with a mug of tea and enjoy the experience of night fishing on the system.

I'd hardly been there an hour when I had a sharp pull on the ledger rod, the boat-biter sang out and the bait runner gave a little line. It stopped as soon as it had started but could only have been a take. I wound down to absolutely no resistance but there were a few marks on the bait, no doubts – a dropped take. On the one hand it was disappointing that I hadn't put a fish in the boat but on the other it boosted my confidence knowing that my choice of swim wasn't far off the mark.

Supper was the traditional sausage and bacon fry up washed down with another mug of tea. A friend “CC” was fishing elsewhere on the system and we swapped texts through the evening, passing the time with football banter and fishing gossip. All three rods were checked and recast. By now it was properly dark, the night was mild even though the wind was still fresh and the clear sky was dotted with stars. I lay back listening to the rustling reeds and counting the shooting stars, making the same wish on each of them. The temperature may have been falling but not my spirits, there was something wonderful about just being there, soaking up the atmosphere. All I needed was a fish....

At around 2200 the boat biter signalled life on the float rig baited with Bluey. This time the culprit kept going and I quickly wound down, bent into a fish and there was a pleasing resistance on the end of the line. My first night time Pike from this system punched its weight and tail-walked in the moonlight for me, fan bloody tastic! Not a monster but she'll do for me, a broad grin spread across my face. Not only that she conveniently unhooked herself in the net and was swimming away moments later. With the rod recast and the boat tidied once again I lay down in the bottom of the boat feeling content and at peace with the world.

I must have dozed off as just over an hour later the ledger rod was purring away as another Pike made off with the deadbait. Another quick strike saw a Pike of similar size drawn towards the boat, all seemed well but as she came into range a shake of the head saw the bait and hooks being thrown back at me. Oh well... I recast and fished an hour or so longer, enjoying the star lit spectacle but after a while the eyes grew heavy so I wound the rods in and lay down in the bottom of the boat once more to get some rest. I dozed off wondering what to do in the morning, should I stay in this general area or head off to the spot I'd originally intended to fish.....?

I cat napped through the night but awoke feeling fairly fresh as light began to grow away in the east. I made an instant decision to pull up the weights and head of to the “other” area. Half an hour later I was tucked into a nice sheltered corner with four deadbaits spread about the boat. Two were fished along the weed line while two others were out in open water. The day dawned as the previous one had ended, with a clear sky and a fresh westerly wind. Conditions looked good but I felt unsettled, not really confident. I had company in the form of a harrier hunting low over the reeds behind me and I beautiful panorama of water and marshland in front but still a nagging feeling I should move. After a while this urge became too much so move I did.

The next spot was one I'd never fished from before but it ticked all the boxes. A bay opened up to my left and there was thick marginal weed in front of the reeds on both sides of me. I cast a mackerel upwind along the weed line and a Sardine down wind. A Bluey was fished in open water as was a Pollan on the fourth rod. This latter was fished buoyant and twitched back towards the boat. I felt settled here and also felt like I was covering the water around me thoroughly, surely it was just a matter of time? A little over an hour later the mackerel was picked up, signalled by the float moving away from me following the line of the weed. I wound down and bent into the fish which responded by diving straight into the weed. Everything went solid but I kept the pressure on and gradually started to gain line and pump something back towards the boat. At first I was sure there was life on the end of the line but by the time I got a mass of weed back to the boat whatever fish had been on the end had gone. I have no idea just how large or small the Pike had been but kept telling myself that had it been a big fish the hooks would have found a good hold and I'd have landed it. This didn't stop me feeling gutted though! With a healthy dose of hindsight I realised that by positioning the boat a little further out I could have avoided the problem almost entirely, live and learn.

I carried on fishing but my enthusiasm and confidence were diminishing, I felt like I'd blown my chances for the day. Things didn't improve when a large yacht which had been zig-zagging across the water in front of me decided to stop and take down the sails within spitting distance of my boat. Why, when there's hundreds of acres of water did this bunch of clowns have to perform this task right in front of me? Two adults hanging precariously off the bows on a windy day, being watched by two children and not a single life jacket between them! Usually I'm able to ignore these types but today I couldn't help giving them some 'advice' in my Anglo Saxon dialect. I moved further upwind for another hour and here I threw a lure around for a while. At the end of a retrieve a tiny Pike flashed at the lure before vanishing once again. It was going to be one of those days! As I tidied the boat ready for departure a group of Cranes flew by, they were leaving the area and so was I.

There's Cranes there honest!

On yesterdays journey I'd been held up by Tesco lorries, on my journey home I was stuck behind a bloody horse box. When it comes to these creatures (which were rendered useless by the invention of the internal combustion engine) I think the French have the right idea. However, on the right back-side, Jodhpurs are a gift from God. Eventually I made it home; tired, filthy and very smelly. I'd enjoyed the experience, boated a fish but had the feeling I could have done better. My addiction has taken hold of me again and I can't wait to get back.

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