Spring turnaround has arrived, the day every year where the winter Pike gear gets stashed at the back of the shed and the spring and summer stuff gets moved into pole position. Last winter had seen unwelcome rodent lodgers who chewed their way through buckets and pots before they succumbed to the poison. When I discovered this, sometime back in the cold, dark months I’d only done a quick patch up job so I had a bit of extra sorting to do now. In the end my shed turnaround took around four hours which is about normal though I’m sure I spend half of this time scratching my head and frowning.
At least the sun was shining and the birds were in full voice, at last spring is here in more than name only. The last few weeks have been gloomy and very wet, the farmers are worried, something about having the crops down before the cuckoo calls? Once I was finished I was due to set off fishing but where and for what? I plan to concentrate on the Tench in the ‘Valley’ this year but if I’m going to try for a big Roach from the big water then now is the time. I couldn’t decide so hedged my bets and put two set of rods in the car then set off to buy a load of bait to get me through a large chunk of the warm season. With this done I still hadn’t made up my mind, when I got to the junction it was decision time, in the end I turned right, for Roach.
From the car park it was obvious straight away that the water level was much higher than this time last year. It had been like this two years ago and we’d caught some cracking Roach here, unmissable bites on helicopter rigs. Last year the water had been low and clear, the fishing had been difficult and the bites very finicky. With the bright sunshine I couldn’t believe what I was doing, I was sure I’d be sitting behind motionless rods for a while, waiting for the sun to dip. Whatever happened I’d be chilling out in a quiet corner of the countryside, as I walked to my swim the hedgerows were all buds and blossom, there was a constant drone of bees and the birds were in full voice. At the bottom of the bay the Swans were nesting in their normal place, unconcerned by me walking past.
I was fishing by 1630 using two open end feeders fished with short hooklengths on helicopter rigs. I’d found a bag of groundbait that had been in the bottom of the freezer for months, this would have to do. Hookbait was red maggots; three on a size 16 on one rod and two on an eighteen on the other. For the first time in about six months I sat on my comfortable fishing chair and relaxed with a brew behind two rods, bank fishing is such a novelty at the moment!
I was sure I’d have to wait a couple of hours before anything happened but to my surprise I started getting bites straight away, not just taps and rattles either, proper bites that even I could hit! For the next ninety minutes I caught fish steadily but all around 4 to 6 ounces, no sign of the bigger fish from two years ago. It was fun though and at times I couldn’t keep two rods in the water, I picked a piece of corn out of the groundbait and stuck this on the size 16 with the intention of concentrating on the other rod but by this time the bites had all but stopped.
The lull in fishy action gave me the opportunity to take in the sights and sounds; the high trees seemed like transit stops for the Wood Pigeons, on their way to plunder whatever was growing in the surrounding fields. The water itself held the usual cast of Mallards, Coots and twice a Grebe surfaced in my swim seeming confused to find me there. As did the Otter that poked it's head out and dived again arse upwards a rod length away, these things are supposed to be rare.
The second ninety minutes saw just three bites and one Roach landed but I was confident of more action as the sun dipped. Sure enough between 1930 and 2000 it was all action again but there was still no sign of the bigger fish. I’d ran out of groundbait so had to switch to maggot feeders but this didn’t seem to matter. Then it all abruptly stopped.
I fished on for another half an hour; my tips were still clearly visible without need for a head torch but unfortunately they were no longer moving.
Somewhere in the trees a Tawny let out it’s unmistakable call and for the first time this year I was able to watch bats showing of their aerobatics. After the cold, sodden, drawn out winter spring is here at last!