Monday, 11 February 2013

Plan B

Should I go and take the boat out? Every weather forecast I looked at was different but the worst case scenario was -2 overnight, followed by 20mph Easterlies and a potential blizzard for the afternoon and evening. The very fact that I was undecided was the thing that made up my mind, usually I can’t wait to get out in the boat. If the forecasts are wrong I’ll be cursing.

I needed a fix of fishing so swapped the boat kit for the bank gear and made plans to fish a elsewhere. I hadn’t seen the river in daylight for a while, what state would it be in? Would the stillwaters be frozen? Of the two I fancied the latter but hedged my best and the final decision could be made in the morning.

In the shed it turned out it had not been home to a family of mice as none were caught in the traps. The culprit has to have been a rat or rats. I speak in the past tense because the poison hasn’t been eaten lately and the chewing has stopped. Last week I spoke to the guy who does the pest control at work and he told me it’s been the worst winter for rats that he’s ever known. He puts it down to the horrendous wet weather but it must have been good for business.

I set my alarm for an early start but kept hitting the snooze button, my bed was just too warm and comfortable. I think I’m turning into a Pike angler that hates the winter. I eventually staggered out, filled the flasks and set off for a destination I rarely fish but one I fancied none the less. For some reason I expected a bright, breezy morning, (I’d even packed my sunglasses) but the day was cold, murky and damp with a freshening South Easterly wind. I’d made a good decision by not roving on the river today! I settled into a swim from which I’ve caught the odd fish in the past but had the wind blowing rain and sleet right into my chops. By 0800 I had a float legered Bluey dropped at the bottom of a marginal shelf to my right and a popped up Mackerel cast along the margins to my left. My intention was to gradually twitch this bait back towards me. With rods out and net set up my pop up shelter got a rare outing, the weather was brutal and a comfortable camp was essential.

A couple of hours passed, I’d retrieved and recast the pop up rig and swapped a Herring for the Bluey on the margin rod. The discarded bait was chopped up and thrown towards the float. I’d seen no sign of any kind of fish but still felt I was in with a chance. My view was restricted by my bivvy door but I was able to enjoy watching the birdlife around me. All the usual waterside birds put in an appearance, notably the Heron, a Kingfisher and what can only have been an Egret flying over. Flocks of Long tailed Tits chirped in the trees around me and amongst them was something different. Was it another smaller species of Tit? It flew into a branch close by and stayed long enough for me to identify it, the flash on its head the giveaway, Britain’s smallest bird the Goldcrest. As usual my camera was well out of reach and the bird didn’t hang around long enough for me to get a picture.

By late morning the rain had largely passed over and conditions were a little more comfortable. The wind was pushing nicely into my area and was surely creating a nice undertow, dispersing the scents from my baits? I like using float leger rigs, particularly when using an un-weighted, bottom attached float. Despite the constant movement of the float riding the waves, when a Pike picks up the bait and the float jags, you know it’s a take straight away. This was the case at 1120 when my herring was picked up, the float stabbed then slowly slid away down the slope. I was at the rod before the line pulled out of the clip, dropped the net beside me, wound down and bent into a Pike. The rod stayed bent indicating I hadn’t hooked a jack and not knowing much about the Pike in this place it could be anything on the end? After a couple of spirited runs I soon had the fish on the surface then sliding into the net. Not the unknown monster I’d hoped for but a beautifully marked double figure fish. Bank fishing is so much less demanding than being in the boat so it was no effort to rest the fish in the net for a couple of minutes while I set the camera up for a quick self-take photo. With this achieved a nice fat fish was returned. If all the Pike in this water are this shape then who knows…?

I recast another Herring then settled back into my bivvy with a celebratory cup of tea. A result of sorts, one I’d probably have settled for when I set off this morning but where there’s one there could be more? I kept twitching the pop up rod and chucked a bit more chopped bait next to my float. The waves continued to crash into my swim and I still felt I was in with another chance but time passed, more storm clouds began to gather and I decided to beat a hasty retreat. This was not what I’d expected to be doing, going into the weekend but I’d enjoyed a bit of fishing somewhere different. The children are with me next weekend, maybe Isaac and I could have a try here or should we have another go at the Marsh?

Finally news came through earlier this week that Terry Lampard had died suddenly. Terry has to be one of the greatest all round anglers we’ve ever seen and this is a sad loss. RIP.

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