Saturday's events left me reeling with the suggestion that a fish I had not given a second thought as anything other than a hybrid might be the roach of a lifetime, or perhaps a hundred lifetimes...with tapeworm
As the warmth of home was left on Sunday morning for another pre-boat traffic mildly frosty dawn start I had no clue where to go. As usual I was armed with the simplest of baits, lobworms and a loaf of bread, but I really could not go back to the same area as the previous day as it would have become a pursuit of the impossible. Equally I couldn't go somewhere with any potential and so in the interest of a challenge the least likely place to catch a decent roach I could think of mysteriously rose to the top of the list of options, but, the lobs could come into play as it was possible that a few perch might inhabit the area, as well, these days, as zander of course
The infinitesimally tiny likelihood of a decent catch from this stretch cannot be over-exaggerated. in matches it would often be missed-out, of such dubious repute was it. I had never seen a weight of even two pounds from there in around 25 years' knowledge and didn't recall personally even having a pound of fish from it in the former angling life before the late 1990's. Not great then. I had not considered the prospect of the crayfish population either, not yet having had much trouble with them this year, but this was one of those places they might relish, deep inside, shallow across, a rocky towpath edge and a tree-lined far bank
I introduced the now customary three helpings of mashed bread down the base of the far shelf at the start despite the lack of form on the basis of an emerging notion that the quantity of this type of feed is important to stop a marauding roach shoal in their tracks in a manner that white crumb or liquidised bread simply appear unable to match
Soon it was apparent that a substantial crayfish population did indeed exist here with the float constantly being pulled about by the line caught around them...and those tell-tale tench-like bubbles they create punctuating the surface immediately above the feed. Casting slightly away from the fed zone to avoid them gave had a tentative lift, little different to those movements attributable to the crays, but, enough to make the trigger finger twitch. the result was the head-banging resistance of a roach of around 8-10 ounces from which the hook pulled-out in mid-water
Not dejected as such but nevertheless convinced that was my chance for the session gone the worms were reached for together with the wand. Feeling around in my bag and behind me the realisation...no worms. They, it seemed, were conveniently tucked next to my shoes in the car boot. A blessing, perhaps, that would ensure I stuck to the bread, fully focussed. Some prospect however!
|Humungus mixtupipiscillana at 3-14-0|
This session was unusual from there on to it's conclusion three and a half hours after setting-up, in that bites then came at regular intervals rather than in a burst of 3 or 4 bites in quick succession as was fairly standard when a shoal passed through. Roach then took centre-stage as they moved-in and for a change apparently stayed hovering over the feed which had been topped-up every hour with two more helpings if bites had tailed-off
The first was a fish of 3 drams over a pound, followed by a fourteen ouncer and at this point I became drawn in to the incredible bird song surrounding me so started to mentally compile a list of species from song as a bit of additional entertainment. Warblers were making themselves known in some numbers for the first time this year and a swathe of violets carpetted the bank as it dipped toward the hedge behind me. A hybrid of just under fifteen ounces intially interrupted the test but great tit was the obvious starter for ten, 'Teacher, teacher!', the male urgently cried as the contrastingly contemplative, 'Chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff, chiff', emanated from a distant twig in tree-lined scrub to the south. Blackcap, greenfinch, mistle thrush and stock dove joined the musical throng as the list approached twenty species, the larger proportion of which were not ever seen
|Perfect roach of around the pound started to show-up|
|The best roach from a canal so far at 1-8-5|
As a hint of water movement started to take effect a last bite of the day produced a fourth roach of just 8 drams below the pound as the first willow warbler of the year struck-up its melancholy descending song and soon after my photography ability was found wanting trying to make something of the literally fantastical catch of six fish for nine and half pounds from this previously angler-forsaken stretch. I shall not be rushing back there though, much preferring instead to seek-out a new challenge but it will not be ignored so freely in future certainly!
|The whole nine and a half pounds of the blighters|
Soaring buzzard and kestrel sought thermals over the road and reflected the light-headed mood as I headed back not noticing either the load on my back or the ground under my feet, angling gets no better than this
|The four canal roach in all their spring sunlight glory, totalling 4-5-11|
Rabbit, roach, (roachxbream hybrid), great tit, blue tit, mallard, moorhen, canada goose, heron, wren, chaffinch, bullfinch, carrion crow, woodpigeon, blackbird, mistle thrush, willow warbler, chiffchaff, robin, greenfinch, blackcap, skylark, stock dove, dunnock, buzzard, kestrel