Monday, 18 November 2013

A Lure of a Virtual Gent (or The Big Roach Hunt gets Upstaged)

The urge to seek-out new canals has taken hold as this one becomes big roach free with it clearing at the onset of colder weather

"Are you going to meet your virtual friend?", said Parps. If it were him of course, a twelve-year old, meeting someone he'd only communicated with online there would be no question, he wouldn't be going at all (and the police would be involved). He'd considered calling the police to say I was meeting someone I didn't know in a car park by the canal before dawn and then thought better of it as we'd managed to predict their advice unaided

The contact had lured me with tales of roach over a pound and a half, even nudging two, and perch over two. Now, I may be vulnerable to such an approach, it's true, but I'd never have believed I would cave into the attraction quite so meekly in years gone by. I have become so accustomed to fishing alone in some fish-forsaken rat-hole or other that the prospect of fishing with someone else has become almost a non-starter but the fact was this was a mission to further expand the canal roach knowledge and seek-out new frontiers to boldly go where no roach angler had knowingly gone before and to come back to this earth wiser with another stretch of another canal at least partly sussed for the future

I somehow arrived at the rendezvous five minutes early, but then I'd woken at 02.15 and barely been able to get back to sleep after allowing the dreams of the previous day's suicidal Leam-ing roach and what might, or might not, happen on the next trip to drift into surreal view. Big chub, bream, roach and perch, they'd all be on the agenda - and nothing under 2lbs! This semi-sleep/semi-awake state would linger for hours until I needed to respond to the alarm which woke me with a jolt at 05.50

If ever it were possible to dupe me into something dubious, the prospect of big roach from unlikely surrounds was always going to be a good starting point. The tales are there to be read on Danny Everitt's ever-engaging, and no less informative and entertaining, blog The Lure of Angling in episodes of which he had accidentally, by his own admission, taken roach well over the above size as a by-product of a heavy duty lobworm-based perch assault on a very actively-used canal

We arrived somewhat too early at the pegs of choice and Danny generously explained the drill gleaned from those previous visits while we waited for enough light to set-up. While doing so the decision was made on my part to combine my now relatively standard heavy bread attack with a version of Danny's perch method using a light link-leger on the wand close-in to my right. Danny wanted to contrast this with a zander rig down the middle and perch rig under a long-standing moored boat to his right, both on the float, and so the traps were set

Holding back on information was clearly not one of Danny's strengths and the general, yet deep, angling chatter between us was most illuminating, not least in that we seemed to be in agreement, despite having grown-up in totally different angling worlds, in our views on the subject as far as we were able to explore them in the space of a couple of angling hours with its associated attractions and distractions

By the time I had clocked the true clarity of the water however my confidence in the bread had subsided sufficiently to relegate the method to an exercise in simply feeding-up the resident crayfish. I have not yet known this approach work unless there was at least a tinge of colour in the water, ideally clarity to around 8" down, and my gut feeling was that if the venue was this clear whenever I visited again some fresh and plump casters would undoubtedly be the order of the day as one of those baits which will attract and then hold feeding fish (roach) for a long period, albeit it takes a couple of hours minimum to achieve the situation. I had braced myself for a procession of boats but in fact we had but one quite gentle cruiser-by that barely rippled the water and certainly did nothing to enhance the turbidity

In this time Danny had quite literally been hauling out zanderlets of a pound or more on kit geared to deal with the double-figure fish he suspected existed here and when his fifth fish, which happened to be a pound and half perch, was returned to slightly diesel-filmed water, the former match fisherman in me felt somewhat shell-shocked. He then took one or two on the inside line and at this time I too had started to get bites on whole lobworms, losing the first and then missing three consecutive wraparounds of the tip from fish that hadn't fully taken the bait and when the worm returned it was on each occasion only then hooked at one end. Surprisingly no prizes are being given for reasons why they weren't caught

Eventually, after Danny's swim had died, I did at last manage three cracking perch from this undoubted dead cert location with baits fished very close to the near bank. The first went 1-6-0 followed by fish of 1-9-0 and, after some debate about it's actual weight, the point of the three fish pyramid was initially pencilled and then inked-in at a weight of 2-1-0; a severely hump-backed primitive-looking fish the like of which I had never seen before, but my Guide advised that this form of fish was quite commonly caught here along with others sharing genetic defects in their scaling. Great fighting fish they were too and the bigger two made for entertaining sport on the wand which looks as if it might struggle to tame a bleak but copes admirably with the challenge and has always to date held strength in reserve

Not built for speed these fish but do they survive in the austere canal environment! 
Despite the lack of roach in the net, in a trip which served more as a recce for the species than anything else, a catch of three perch for exactly five pounds in a twenty minute period toward the close was not to be sniffed at and for that to include the first 2lb canal perch I had ever seen, let alone caught, was, as Eddie Cochrane or more recently The Sex Pistols would have said, 'something else' bringing as broad a grin as this miserable so-and-so ever manages to his woolly mug. The roach attack was persevered with for around two hours without so much as a piscine nibble though the same could not be said for their crustacean counterparts who had a free feast worth shelling-out for

The Neanderthal of the fish world resplendent with extra armour behind the eyes
Danny kindly offered to take the trophy shot with some alacrity but with equal and contrasting resignation did not further the question when I declined. I like the fish to take the stage, this being an unwritten born-again angler law, having been quite the opposite in my match fishing days

The reminder to take Parps to his Rugby match overtook my mind after a little short of two and a half hours and, as I headed back and offered some bits of part-punched bread to the ducks, I pondered the fact that we could quite easily have spent at least as long again, and more likely many days, discussing the convergence of angling ways and our experiences but the pleasure of such a visit and the topping of it with the PB canal perch made it all the more enjoyable. Not virtually a good fish this one but a real good one and the only hint of the need for the police, as it turned out, would have been to separate hybrid ducks fighting to the death...and Danny turned-out to be a real gent, more so than I could have imagined, well-versed, well-read and well-mannered; the littl'un needn't have worried the biggest risk was being dragged in by the predators. Later that day at the Rugby match one of the Dads said he'd told his nippers not to walk close to the canal edge as there were canal sharks that would try to beach and drag them in if they got too close(!), this might just be the place he referred to

No comments:

Post a Comment