Late Saturday evening a trip to the North Oxford Canal just before dark, and, it was hoped, after the last boat, enabled the widely accepted peak time to be tested as darkness descended and took hold
A splat of thawed white crumb from a home liquidised loaf started the session as the inside line of the outside of a bend was targeted. I waited over an hour for a bite and didn't have one but, on deciding it was time to quit, I lifted the float out to find a hard-fighting fish on - my makeshift beta-light set-up had actually precluded me seeing the bite! An interesting battle in the dark was won by the no.6 pole elastic and a roachxbream hybrid of fourteen ounces was admired in the headlamp glow and slipped back into the murky depths 30 yards to my right. Buoyed by that capture another few 'casts' were made but nothing exciting followed and so I departed after introducing the remainder of the bread mix on that same line and vowed to return at dawn to make use of this rather feeble pre-baiting ritual
While sat there in the dark I was conscious of a white shape coming towards me from the left. Then there was a crash as if a pile of wooden poles had fallen to the ground, at which point the white shape stopped dead. Soon however the shape started coming closer again and as it approached it took-on a more square form in the gloom until a man in a red coat carrying a large white box appeared slipping and sliding all over this particularly swamp-like towing path! We exchanged pleasantries and to this moment I can only assume he had been shopping for some kind of electrical item and misjudged the time it would take to get home...we'll never know the truth of course, but it certainly was an odd one...if the crash really was him falling over or dropping the box I do hope he'd bought plenty of glue
Next morning the water looked somewhat more 'bready' than the previous night, visibility had improved to about 5" below the surface and that greenish tinge that our canal often takes on in the winter was about it. Two lines were attacked; one replicating yesterday's on bread and another at 8-9m with lobworm. I also introduced some crumb into a swim under an overhanging tree 30m to my left after I had been there half an hour but started on last night's bread-line without feeding for 15 minutes 'just in case'
Again it was an hour, almost to the minute, when the first bite regsitered on bread flake and it was a really pronounced unmissable lift at that. The strike met with a really strong fighting fish, much as the night before, but more so. Eventually a flash of bluey/silver broke the surface and I was for that moment convinced that this at last was that roach over a pound and half I had been seeking for much of the previous year...but it wasn't done yet. I was fairly confident it would not be a 'two' and when it appeared again I was somewhat deflated to see it's more bream-like shape and dull fins - another hybrid of 1-10-0 was confirmed on the mud-covered bank
|An unintentionally soft-focus hybrid, a steamed lens and no cloth were responsible...and not a roach|
As the tree hung so far out into the canal it only took 7-8m of pole to drop a piece of flake under it and no sooner had the float cocked and the shoulder sunk below the surface, leaving the red tip visible, than it suddenly returned to the shoulder and a strike into another twelve ounce roach proved the only bite at this location in two visits during the three and a half hour early morning session
The main swim was good for third 12oz roach, a 3oz'er and a 6oz perch on lobworm before boat traffic put paid to the level of excitement
|3 roach of between 0-11-11 and 0-12-11 and yet the photo makes them look so different|
'Happy with that. I think this method will be worth pursuing for a while and see how it evolves
Later on Sunday I couldn't resist an hour at and after dark on the falling, and very slightly clearing, River Leam to the tune of another roach of 8 ounces, again on flake and a number of tappy indications. Frost in the morning - nine degrees in the evening, the climate is out of control.
|A river roach with colour washed-out by the flash and the flood|