Saturday, 3 May 2014
An impromptu possibility Wednesday morning was ignited by a somewhat startled little owl standing on the edge of the road as I headed out, remarkably blotchy bundles of feathers that they are. If a silverfish was an omen last time out surely this could be one this time, or so I had hoped
I figured that owl was worth about 25% of what could be considered a good day
A peg was selected that The Old Duffer used to frequent prior to his canal angling retirement. Relatively narrow but with a vegetated natural bank across and grass neatly manicured by fluffy, big eared, powder-puff-tailed Roman imports to sit on
A lot of small fish were topping and the bird song was almost so prolific as to make some of the species i.d. confused by the noise
Little happened initially and I fed another swim in a marina mouth as Plan B after about half an hour, having wet a line at about 5.30am. On returning to the swim and casting in the lump of punched bread the float did some strange gyrations and a two ounce roach had somehow managed to swallow a bait about four times the size of its mouth. A few casts later a similar thing occurred but this time it felt like a good-sized fish but without much much fight, it soon appeared near the surface. A black shape from the depth of reasonably clear water and those curvy fins unmistakable as a tench. Only the third I had ever seen from this cut, having taken two back at new year 2013...and suddenly, on seeing me, it took flight...then it was interesting! The nearside shelf soon became clouded as the slippery customer sought refuge in it's silty bed, and among rocks and roots beneath my feet. First one way then the other but somehow it was possible to limit the line it took and the baited area was not ploughed through. After what seemed quite a few minutes, but probably wasn't, the fish tired and was drawn towards the, suddenly tiny looking, big roach net
This took the percentage of a good day up to 80% minimum on the joint ticket of rarity and size
Overhead a pair of warblers, possibly chiffchaffs, chased wildly over the water perhaps in shared celebration of the capture resulting in one actually hitting the surface but managing to shake itself clear and escaping into the bushes, only to be pursued again
A trot along to the other peg indicated a serious infestation of crayfish with fine fizzing bubbles covering the still canal top over the fed area and sure enough the action under the water confirmed it. After a few minutes it was decided to return to the first peg but to little avail
The temptation of a never before fished area the other side of the nearby road bridge grew greater and, as I made my way there, the paleness of the far shelf was evident in this tree-lined darker cutting contrasting with the relative open airiness of the starting area. Soon after introducing both bait and feed a hand-sized silver bream obliged and was reintroduced to the water some fifty yards to the right
Then, an unusual event for this canal, a genuine bow-wave of a far side fish off the edge of trailing brambles. Seconds later a dark shape drifted in the same direction under my nose. A three pound fish. Species unknown.
Within seconds a positive bite, as a blackcap struck-up its liquid song in opposing scrub, and a more than decent fight. Again unusually for the canal the need to allow the centre-pin to give line off the ratchet took hold as this powerhouse fish took flight. What could it be, another springtime mega-hybrid perhaps?
No delayed confirmation this time however as the first time the fish broke the surface, not something I encourage of course(!), it exposed it's whole self to view as its flank gleamed that of a massive chub. A CHUB!
Only a week or so ago a friend asked if this, to all intents, crude bread fishing method ever caught any carp. Well the answer was 'no' (as they are not numerous in the canal and I tend to fish it down the middle, whereas canal carp of course tend to patrol far bank shelter) but it has to be said that an undoubtedly, by sight, three pound plus fish far outweighed any canal carp I might, or rather might not, have caught
I'm sure I will have stated this before but north oxford canal chub are, while statistically less rare that tench, very, very uncommon. In the 1990's there was one peg on some brambles where they would very occasionally show, some five or six miles east, but I don't recall anything above a two pounder and, other than that only two fish spring to mind, one around a pound and one just under two above Hillmorton Locks
This fish only just fitted the net and as the connection, pole to net thread, was somewhat dodgy I lifted the net itself with two hands from the water...and wondered.
Three nine it went, three nine. I keep repeating myself. Did I say it was three nine?
All those hours spent chasing River Leam chub and here was one, dare I say, caught by accident from the bloomin' cut that would sit second on that river list! What a beauty though and as chunky as a tin of pedigree chum...with scales
So, as by this time we were up to around 150% of a good day, 'one more cast' was risked. A proper and surprisingly quite instant bite after the commotion brought a roach of half an ounce under the pound into the bizarre early morning equation. This alone would have been 20-25% of a good day under normal circumstances.
As I mused my way back home, and ultimately to work, I pondered the conundrum; although football managers believe it is possible to have more than 100% of something the rest of the sane world realises this is impossible, but had it been achieved this exceptional morning?
'No!', I decided...it must have been 100% of a very good day, very good indeed.