"Aah, let's go anyway, it's the only chance I'll have"
...and go I did.
A few weeks ago during the New Year mild spell a couple of unseasonal tench enlivened proceedings on a wide North Oxford Canal bend never before fished; well, others had fished it, but I hadn't
So yesterday, in the snow, I ended-up there again, albeit two or three pegs to the left
I had recalled some big fish crashing in this area, the culprits unknown but probably not roach, however I still fancied there might be some big roach in the area and, being without any lobworms, it was to be bread all round
Plumbing-up offered a pleasant surprise for, though the depth was not as great as the narrower stretches, it was deep well across against the far shelf at around 11m.
|Water clarity perhaps a touch better than could have been expected with visibility about a foot down|
The bread I had was a touch stale and it took three attempts to get a hookbait over the feed but a couple slices I had steamed did the trick and straightaway I struck into something hefty. In fact I have only experienced this phenomenon once since returning to fishing and that was the very first time I tried the lift bite method and large flakes of bread on the pole when a bream of exactly three pounds had risked a nibble; the strike hit a fish so large that when I lifted the pole the float stayed where it was and the elastic just stretched...and stretched!
Battle commenced. No fast, furious fighter this fish but clearly a heavyweight for this canal. After much aquatic chugging, burrowing and plodding-around the defendant became somewhat more animated when close to the net and it took a good while to drag a bream over the landing net. 3-1-0 it went, and a North Oxford PB by an ounce...good start
At this point a small brown bird alighted on some dead willowherb opposite and slightly to my left. "Troglodyte", I thought [Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)], and as it proceeded to strip seeds from the plant I very quickly had to backtrack. This was no wren, an out and out invertebrate devourer, but at the same time I could not see any diagnostic features and so took a series of long telephoto lens shots for later scrutiny
|A redpoll. If anyone out there in blogland recognises this as anything other than the 'lesser' variety please do let me know|
Regular tremors of the float occurred throughout the session as well as outrageous bites as bream came to the net at regular intervals together with two that slipped the hook and they all fought with some gusto it has to be said, which is often true of canal bream of course
As an old friend not seen for at least 20 years, who passed by, commented, these were largely old fish. There was certainly something 'funny' about them but I couldn't quite put my finger on it; something that made these fish, in varying degrees, not quite bronze bream. Two of the two pounders fought with that additional vigour of hybrids and the scales were, well, more roach like in places; and then there was the Roman nose-like mouth shape of the big'un; something is bugging me about them but, for the time being, they are bronze bream until proven otherwise
Not a roach to be seen but the catch certainly knocked all previous bream records for the canal, for my part and my memory at least, into a cocked hat. The 5 chunky fish weighed 10-14-0 and the prospect of a big bruising redfin in their company remains to live on as a hope for another day, as certainly it is not unheard of for such a dream fish to accompany nets of bream and such like on occasion
|In case you thought I was fishing a touch heavy - that's not a yellow-tipped float giving some scale to the fish! The 'bream' on the right in hindsight is probably a hybrid explaining why it fought like one|
The activity in the swim was equally surprising with numerous feeding fish betrayed by much bubbling and blowing and, had I not been restricted, as I was, to bread I feel a bigger weight was quite possible but that will now have to wait for another day
|Plenty of width but an otherwise unremarkable swim alive with bream|
So the start to 2013 continues in a rich vein interspersed by blanks and the next brief two-hour session this very morning saw me wandering an unbelievably boggy canal bank I had never before set eyes on in the hope that I could track down that elusive roach in excess of 1-4-12. January and February had always been something of a nemesis with some seasons not a pound of fish registered on any day in their whole length. Again, unusually, an early bite resulted in yet another 2013 12oz roach, tempted of course on bread flake, coming to the net and two missed bites. Incidentally, on this trip, I trialed a Warburtons extra thick (green) loaf but it was just too thick and doughy, I'll be back to the blue in no time but if you don't ask the question you don't find out!
Lesser redpoll, bullfinch, chaffinch, goldfinch, long-tailed tit, robin, blackbird, song thrush, starling, dunnock, magpie, jackdaw, carrion crow, woodpigeon, feral pigeon, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, cormorant, black-headed gull