Well, the world still has that "Ready Brek" glow about it
While it's never on the tip of the tongue there were a couple of highlights in a twenty-five year match fishing period, of course there had to be one or two, but very few of them matched this
Tougher than the worst canal; tougher than the coldest river; tougher than chewing leather; The Stillwater is all those things and more
Were it not for those encounters with The Blackstone 2 a couple of years ago nothing other than the odd perch, pike or fluked fish would have been possible, as, while the water holds specimen fish, in some instances so large as to be beyond belief; so large as might cause the silence of reverence to decend on any scene; they are so, so difficult to catch
For a start the venue is huge: secondly it's barely fished other than by a dozen or so obsessively committed souls; a pint of bait is but a drop in the ocean; natural food levels are exceptionally high; the depth points to certain swims but they too regularly disappoint; predation is very high and weed growth can be so extensive as to limit fishing to a minimal percentage of the total perimeter
The number of blanks far outweigh the successful days and the latter is measured in number of bites; even line bites are discussed with interest
So far in the current campaign the FF&F landing nets have been graced by no fewer than eleven fish that would have been p.b's before access was gained to the site. These out of just 14 fish caught in the two month period.
The first bite took 14 days from starting feeding. The next? Eleven days, and it has only been in the past fortnights' trips that blanks have been outweighed by fish.
A recent dawn start was a typical example, now that fish are more regularly over the feed. A bite at 08.20, lost in weed; a bite at 09.10 and a male tench of 4.15 is landed. Two further liners concluded and drew a monofilament line under proceedings.
This was not the case in 2016 when a similar campaign took only two days to produce regular bites.
So why was this year so different?
Initially it was started in the hope of a Challenge fish or two, knowing that if successful the fish was highly likely to be worth good points with a 10pt bonus for being the largest caught. This was far too early with the water still quite cold at just below 8°C and it was not until this factor increased to a consistent 17°C that bites were forthcoming and a pattern became established.
Now, having baited the swim for 2 months, it has reached a point at which bites can now be expected rather than the announcement by alarm being a shock to the system. Water temperature is consistently 18°C+ and although that water is quite clear a bank of weed between 'us and them' helps fish to feed confidently.
So, just a few mornings ago at 5.30am, a bite met with solid resistance and the ploddy battle put up by your average female tench ensued, no screaming runs here, but a lump of a fish for certain.
She took me kiting into some weed but, varying slack line with reasonable pressure and the chest waders, she came through into the light and when laid on the mat she looked quite huge.
It was two years since my p.b., an eight & a half pounder, and so my experience estimating fish of this size was lacking. I told myself that she was a good seven pounds but when she bottomed the scales at 9lbs 8ozs a comforting smirk started to establish and remained insitu for some hours, returning at each fleeting thought for a few days in fact.
|Not the finest of pictures but an indication indeed of the scale of the matter|
'Consensus is the The Stillwater could produce a double figure fish this year but, sitting with the life-giving sun now set over my right shoulder, Tinca tinca's procreative instincts have been to the fore as individuals aqua-scurried through the reeds and blanket weed allbut under the rod tip in pursuit of the key to future of their species.
Long may it continue.