Sunday, 22 April 2012

Fight or Flight, stillwater distractions

 After three consecutive canal blanks on pegs with potential at least to throw-up big roach it is time for a change

You can see the bottom from here!

Last Sunday there were big roach topping immediately to The Old Duffer's left for the first hour and smaller ones near me but I went biteless and he mustered just two bites on maggot for one 10oz perch. I would go as far as to say I have never (or perhaps 'rarely') seen so many big roach showing early in the morning on a canal and yet they clearly weren't in the slightest bit interested in whatever we might've offered them as a distraction, unless the shoal was tightly packed. Admittedly it was very frosty, the car said 0degC on the way at 5.30am, but nevertheless those fish were very active. Other than the above I can only put it down to a spawning preoccupation given the time of year albeit I have continued to purposely avoid bites from blank-busting roach of less than about 10ozs by sticking to big pieces of flake

Apart from spending more time trawling through the old records to schedule big roach for future reference and comparison I have also been planning some stillwater trips which has helped to narrow-down the options by revisiting those I fished previously and took roach over a pound from, sometimes in reasonable numbers it seems, but, again, although this may have been successful to a degree, in a match-orientated kind of way, I was then still intent on catching whatever bit rather than narrowing it down to a smaller number of better fish. This process has reminded me that I had taken decent fish from at least four of the more natural stillwaters within the scope of my search, none of which were, nor are, 'commercials'. A few questions asked show at least two of them to be day ticket, which is good, and another is now a non-carp-orientated syndicate (with a waiting list)...I smiled nicely (difficult), explained that I used to fish there as a kid (true), said what a nice boy I was (hmmm) and now await a call...but am not holding my breath!

That these venues hold the potential for tench, bream, rudd and crucians as well, in varying degrees, adds to the new found allure conjured by memories drawn from the cardboard vault and some corresponding photographs

The fact I can take Parps to share a swim more easily and have the undoubted pleasure of enduring his incessant drivel also has a certain attraction and hopefully he might even catch the odd one in between words on the occasion he actually draws breath

Armed with this somewhat over-egged enthusiasm I headed-off in the frost on Saturday morning to a usually clear water which I hoped would have benefitted from some added colour from the week's afternoon rains...not so. Anyway, casters at the ready and a new reel to christen - thank you God for eBay - I persevered from 6.30 for four solid biteless hours of attempted roach fishing which turned into a brilliant birdwatching session as the realisation dawned that I wasn't there to catch anything! I sat for the second two hours with my binoculars permanently around my neck and alternated firing casters four to five rods out with viewing the avian action

A migratory common sandpiper was most confiding, coming to less than 20yds away for his portrait, as did a goldfinch collecting nesting material from the path behind me together with a similarly occupied grey wagtail, which eluded the too-slowly poised compact

Common sandpiper

Nesting goldfinch
Nesting birds were all around the phragmites & bulrush surrounded waters. At least four pairs of constantly conflicting coots, two pairs of mute swan a least one of which had eggs, two pairs of canada geese and the graceful pre-breeding ritual of great crested grebe together with skylark, willow and reed warbler song filling the chilly morning atmosphere with the passion of Spring

Two pairs of battling coots

Great crested grebes' courtship ritual
30 species were listed including all three hirundines, but amazingly not a single gull or tern, and it reminded me of the bonuses of fishing lakes rather than the limited potential of canals with their constrained linear marginal habitat. (I had the genuine pleasure in midweek of watching a pen swan raising her nest by 6" as protection from the swelling Avon carrying much welcomed floodwater around the raft she and the cob had carefully and painstakingly created on a mid-river small island)

So, as these musings run in danger of turning into something of a rambling epic, the irritation at failing to tempt a single individual of last week's shoal of quality topping roach on the cut to investigate my bait with abandon became more intense - an itch increasingly in need of scratching seven days later - as an immediate contrast interrupting the stillwater spell...already

[Sedge warbler, Willow warbler, Chiffchaff, Common sandpiper, Dabchick, Great crested grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Canada goose, Mute swan, Tufted duck, Grey wagtail, Swallow, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Carrion crow, Rook, Wren, Mallard, Reed bunting, House martin, Skylark, Raven, Starling, Pheasant, Goldfinch, Sand martin, Great spotted woodpecker, Buzzard]


  1. Hi George - now that's a water I know well (but have never fished)! Great birding update by the way - the sandpiper is a good 'un, always welcome. This is a still water right at the top of my list, so I hope to be there in the next couple of months (might wait for warmer / drier conditions, it's a bit exposed).

    1. You're not wrong there! It was a frosty morning but with very little wind - even then my little fingers were dropping-off. A (very) local guy said nothing much had been caught for around a fortnight and a carper I met the week previous had only had 1 fish so you're right to leave it for now. I will be too