Sunday, 25 September 2016

Bewilderment and Delight.

Blackberrying swans
Poised waiting for a blaze of colour to lift through the ripple following the first wave of flashing silver, thoughts turned to the ingenuity, and downright usefulness, of the tools at hand.

Not having in the slightest a mechanically-inclined mind, I wonder at the complexity and longevity of our angling fathers' inventiveness.

Surrounded by evidence of it, it falls under analysis.

The engineering skill of the balance, power and, 'tween times, rigidity of the rod itself is something all angler's appreciate and covet to suit their needs but the smaller points, the stand off rings for instance, to keep the line off a wet blank, holding it parallel and in perfect unison with its curve. I could never have thought of that.

The float I understand. It is quite easily possible to understand how, over time, by tweak of twig and finesse of feather, they appeared and evolved into today's myriad options. Historically what made the tackle shop akin to a sweet shop of course. No more however.

Even the very simplest of ideas, the slot cut into individual lead gun shot for attachment to line, or gut as it may have been then, is quite beyond my own perception as a concept.

Of course the ubiquitous 3/8" thread and it's perfectly matching socket, so widely used and recognised as standard by default, is in itself pure genius. Simple but effective, as they say.

For me though, the peak of the mesmerising array of imagination beyond my most bizarre of dreams is the reel, and while the fixed-spool reel, and perhaps indeed the closed-face version, represent the most advanced and intricately engineered equipment available to us, if aesthetics and elegance are factors in that pageant, then surely the centre-pin epitomises the ultimate in inventive beauty.

Where would we be without such advancements? Propelling the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune blindly into the murky depths and starved of release from it all no doubt.

How lucky we are.

Anyway, enough of this fanciful tripe...

Canal and small river roach have been calling this week.

The Leam, from which four over a pound have been enticed these past 4 years (is that all?) played it's usual clear river game and offered up nothing bigger than seven ounces or so.

Rain required.

The Grand Union however, while being awash with bream at times, almost to the exclusion of all else it regularly seems, bore spangled fruit in the shape of four roach that hit the 1lb+ target, topped by a beauty of 1lb 7ozs 6drms.

This, the second largest so far from this increasingly potent canal, was taken, as is the way of things, early morning, on a large chunk of flake having plundered a nearby swim at dawn for 8lbs of thickly mucus-basted bronzes.

I confess to allowing myself just a brief, though admittedly slightly guilty - being alone - beaming smile of delight.

This very Sunday morning a slightly better overall catch of 13lbs overall, including a bream of precisely 3lbs, included a jewel of 1.4.2 first cast.

Thankfully the big roach nearly always come to the bait first while the bream hang-off, pondering the prospect. After that though I do fear they get bullied-out.

The Big Canal Roach list (all GUC) thus far, after two weeks, looks very much like this:

The game is afoot with a vengeance. Roll-on the next break in play.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Every Loaf has a Silver-lining

The feeling of being cocooned in a hot chammy leather is as conducive to good fishing as snow melt. The two extremes of pointless angling activity.

Thankfully the tench campaign ended in July, having eventually traversed the boredom threshold in the same swim with the same birds, and reaching the point at which the resident bank vole acquired a name..."Vikram". Time to move-on.

A target of ten fish from the most reluctant of stillwaters was set and slowly but surely over the month from the first bites on June 16th, via sightings of dog otter, small and large skippers, greenshank and hobbies the list grew. Only on two occasions did more than one of these beautiful fish lay on the well-worn bank, being the occasions of the first and last landings. Three on the first day, two on the last. The latter causing brief mental turmoil as it took the total to eleven. To fish on until 20? No,  boredom cannot be extended that long. Eleven would do fine.

So what next?

HonGenSec had been pushing for an answer but nothing had gripped the psyche. A new peg is all-but ready elsewhere on the Stillwater for a late summer/autumn bream campaign.

It's a funny time of year, late summer. Personally, without doubt, the least engaging fishing period.

But school holidays have now been and gone and the prospect of a canal campaign presented itself, but, being that hinting at autumnal time, an early start isn't so early as to encourage a couple more minutes sleep.

Small rivers appeal too but not high reaches as would remain akin to a bottle brush in a gutter, with reeds and rushes bank to bank. No, somewhere a touch less narrow with steady depth - that would do nicely.

So we've settled on the Upper Avon and 'middle' Leam combined with Oxford and Grand Union Canals and the challenges are:

Roach over 1lb
Chub 4lbs.
Plus and other good fish that come along be they chub, dace, etc

Roach - To add to the 1lb+ list (now totalling around 100 since rejoining the throng 4 or 5 years ago) but secretly looking for fish over 1lb 8ozs.
Silver bream over 1lb.
Plus, again, anything else tempted and of good size; bronze bream, perch, chub, zander.

So, with all that set, battle commenced...

Initially, it took well into the third trip before it really became engaging and pleasurable again after the obligatory summer break but sure enough with that early chill in the air the chase, spirit and sight of that first rutilus hitting the target did the trick and suddenly there aren't enough early mornings in a day, surely there should be at least three?!

The first of many, it is to be hoped

Having squeezed much of previous years' pursuit into the short North Oxford Canal this autumn the Grand Union locally is taking the brunt. After a couple of very promising fish last winter and genuine reports of fish pushing 1lbs 8ozs what size roach can the GUC offer?

One thing is for certain. The right technique will sort them out if they're there...and so the search has begun.

Finding target fish in the rivers will be a touch more hit & miss but slowly a picture will form, just the same.

Initial Grand Union roach findings are promising. The first target fish to grace the net being half an ounce over the mesmeric pound and, this very morning, on this first day after temperatures dropped from balmy 20+ degrees C., a first bite fish of 1.4.6 took centre stage in a mixed catch with some skimmers. It was landed to the call of a scarce Northants tree pipit.

Best of the short campaign yet at 1.4.6 thanks to tip-off from a long-lost friend

A nice net for 2 1/2 hours' fishing

On Wednesday however the silver lining illuminated wide-eyes and orange/pink fins when blikka bjoerkna came to the irresistible Warburton's blue feast laid out before it, at 1.11.8 this silver bream was probably the highest %age record weight of any species caught previously, made even more incredible by its canalised habitat. The record being just 3lbs 5ozs and canal record most likely Russell Hilton's 2.4.8 fish from the last Bloggers' Challenge.

Running the many photographs taken against various physical features for certainty became ever more exciting as the truth emerged from the fish i.d. mincer

Big-eyed silver bream dwarfing a perfect roach of 1.2.5

The catching of this fish however proved costly on the bite detection front with two of my 'best' lift-bite floats wrecked in the process. Ebay is being scoured but a suitable pattern for this technique on canals ain't that easy to uncover

Close at hand are numerous feature-filled stretches of all selected waters and so the prime spots could take some narrowing-down but it's mid-September and spring does not contemplate lubricating it's coils for 4 or 5 months yet. Time will be the angler's companion, for now and HonGenSec has his answer.

****STOP PRESS****
...and last night 8 degrees C with clear skies. We're on the cusp