Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Return of the Blue Cow

For once I had an easy journey on uncrowded roads but equally uncommon was a queue at the slipway. I had plenty of time to think, three weeks had passed since my last disastrous visit, plenty of time to lose track of the fish. However it seemed that this unlikely window of opportunity had opened at the right time for me as the long range forecast warned of a cold snap to come. Over night it had been clear and cool at home but here was cloud, signs of recent rain and milder temperature. The weatherman claimed today would be bright about 7 degrees with a moderate north easterly. I felt confident that Pike would be feeding, if I could find some.

I had an area in mind, one I didn't know particularly well and hadn't yet fished this season but had produced a fish or two this time last year. This was an area I'd had in mind on my last visit and for some reason I fancied my chances there today. By 8am I was in position, a Pollan cast towards the reeds, a Mackerel was fished upwind in open water while I Lamprey and Bluey were fanned out downwind. Amongst the Christmas madness at last a fix of fresh air, peace, countryside and maybe even a fish or two. For now it was just a case of making a brew, sitting back comfortably and waiting.

After only fifteen minutes or so, with the flask held precariously a bait runner purred, my Mackerel was moving. I wound down and on connection a fish thrashed noisily on the surface, then dived putting a nice bend in the rod. After that it was just a case of pumping back a nice solid weight towards the boat, the fish did little, soon a nice big head became visible near the net and within moments she was mine. Long and lean, in mint condition, my best of the season so far, bootiful! Into the sladle, unhooked without fuss, weighed, a quick photo then back in the water. The mackerel was recast, the tea was still warm and tasted great.

Twenty minutes later I was thinking about moving the Pollan when it started moving off on its own. Once again I pulled into a nice fish which pulled harder than the first but turned out to be smaller. Still a good fish though, admired for a moment then released. Over the years I've spent days here without seeing the float moved which makes the days when you find fish so much sweeter. Where there's one, there's often a few more. Would I complete the hat trick? Shortly after I had a strange experience, all around was bright blue sky except for one dark grey cloud. This was directly above and dumping light rain on top of me. At least I was treated to a rainbow.

After a quiet ninety minutes it was time for a move but where? I decided to stay in the general area so lifted the mud weights and travelled about 60 metres upwind, far enough to ensure all four baits would be fishing in new water. The rods were carefully spread out as before, the Pollan now popped up and twitched back towards the boat. The other rods were kept on the move too.
There were two “events” of this move but only the first actually concerned fishing, I glanced at the float above the bluey and noticed a flat patch on the surface caused by oil. This sometimes happens when a Pike chomps the bait and can be followed by a travelling float but this time it didn't occur. However there was another oil patch a minute or so later and it seemed to be in the wrong place, upwind as opposed to downwind. Very odd. When I wound that rod in the bait had gone? Had a fish picked up the bluey, somehow avoided the hooks (cast off?) and moved off with it? I'll never know.

The second event concerned a yacht. I noticed it coming towards me, his course seemed to indicate he was following the reedline and would pass harmlessly by. On the front of the yacht the obviously cheerful occupant had placed a good sized Christmas tree. Whether or not this obscured his view I don't know but all of a sudden it was apparent that he was heading straight for one of my lines. I was too slow and the line got caught up by which time the yacht was so close I barely had to raise my voice.
“You've picked up my line mate” I called
“Sorry” came the reply “there's nothing I can do, they're invisible...” He didn't consider stopping for a second.
“Invisible? With a bloody great orange float ?” I asked but got only a mumbled response.
I don't normally get 'involved' with the often selfish boaters I encounter, I usually just get on with it but this guy's 'don't give a shit' attitude got up my snout. I hung on the rod and luckily it came free, no harm done and after checking the line decided now was a good time for a move.

This time I travelled back downwind, beyond my original starting point and dropped into a slightly shallower area. By now the sun was obscured by cloud more often than not and with the forecast North easterly wind it felt chilly. The rods were spread again, two towards the reeds and two in open water. I stayed like this for an hour or so before another move where I concentrated on the open water. My belly was filled with a fry up and washed down with a cuppa but unfortunately no fish intruded on my meal. During the day it had become evident that the engine wasn't running quite right so I decided to get off the water in the early afternoon. I didn't fancy being out on the water, in the dark with no engine.

The journey home was brightened by listening to the football on local radio, Town actually won for a change. Another hour to kill, thoughts going through my head. At the beginning of the autumn the mornings had been quiet with all the fish coming after noon however, on my last two successful visits the action had all been in the first ninety minutes. No sooner do we notice a pattern then it changes. A spell of cold weather will change things for sure, if it stays cold for a while it will get tough. Here's hoping for mild weather when I make it out again, whenever that may be.


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