Monday, 21 August 2017
Deep summer has never held much appeal.
As a kid The Old Duffer and The Old Trout didn't care for the sun and I guess it stuck.
We used to amuse ourselves with hemp and tares and at this time of year, the harvest, it was peak seed fishing season.
Now though, with the bonus fish commitment truly engaged, the prospect of a stream of victims up to the occasional pound limit just does not tick any boxes nor spend any of the emotional budget.
We're in a "stick cleft" (sic) as someone used to say; a dilemma; a damned if we do, damned if we don't time of year.
There are fish to be caught and, Bloggers Challenge-wise, some of summer stillwater species have been banked but the rivers have been pretty dreadful locally, when low and clear. The recent rains have brought hope but even a swim I felt certain would produce a decent barbel or chub has been piscatorially ravaged on three or four occasions to no avail, other than three measly additional points for a 3oz 2dr dace.
The lake carp are too easy to catch and the canals are nose to tail with disrespecting and dim-witted holiday narrowboaters.
Has the picture been painted?!
So, what to do?
The inadvertent bream campaign culminated in two consecutive 5lbs 4ozs individuals from a pool I've become strangely fond of but I really need to move-on.
Only two weeks or so hence the little Johnnies and Janets will be brimming the schools; the hire narrowboats will be scrubbed-up for next time and life will be on the up. Big and long-established autumn and winter targets can be pursued with methods of great enjoyment.
Until then however a few important things have eluded my bloggers challenge submissions. River and canal carp, tench and rudd being the main ones. It would be these that ought to form the basis of the next month's action. Canals can be identified where these are all quite possible, perhaps even from a single peg. For any of these species on a river however it's far from a certainty and this must be where the bulk of the homework is done.
Bloggers Challenge Update:
James, of course, has torn-off into the lead but if the above species can be weighed-in his lead could be whittled down to manageable proportions, for now at least
Current Top 5:
James Denison 828
George Burton 626
Brian Roberts 506
Daniel Everitt 423
Russell Hilton 401
All that apart, since returning from the Wye, where after, now, a total of around ten days experience at this barbel fishing lark it is starting to make some kind of sense, the Warwickshire Avon's barbel, in some areas, including this, fish of legend, would be under the microscope.
At first, and, as it happens, for around half a dozen sessions, a tactic of either 'bait droppered' hemp & pellets or cage feeder produced not even the slightest indication of fish presence.
Then this weekend, in a down in the mouth chance encounter with Stealth Mode Gary while loading the cars after drawing yet another blank, a little pearl fell from his lips and shone like a Time Square neon advertisement. It was simple and it was instantly eating at me. Immediately it was clear this was the answer even without the accompanying tales of 12.13's, 10.6's, etc., and the obligatory, "...and he lost one at the net he said made those look small...".
So, with rain pouring on arrival (this was serious) and barbed wire scratches on the new-ish car as a bonus the 'Royal we', settled in.
Brolly like a mushroom in the still air and yet room to cast to the right we sat peering-out into the closing gloom for the last two hours of the day. It would be dark early but with a rule of no fishing after sunset it would be dusk forever on an evening like this. Sunset would be prolonged and, as prime big fish time, if it was going to happen it would be today.
Baiting-up and casting-out with confidence we sat back and exchanged idiocies with our Challenge contemporaries. It was not long before the realisation that we'd put the bait just beyond a significant fallen branch (suggesting continuing in this fashion was folly in the landing a fish stakes) caused us to start feeding further-out by catapult.
Giving it twenty minutes to settle in the squelching, overwhelming twilight the prospect of a cast with that sparkling pearl on the hook became necessarily irresistible.
Out it went. A touch out of position and, sure enough, nothing was doing. Second underarm flick to mid-river beyond the snags and we were in business.
A minute or two passed and a definite but slight quiver suggested sub-aquatic interest.
We reached for the rod.
The proverbial three foot twitch had barely materialised when the strike met with unexpectedly mediocre resistance. It was either an enthusiastic big bream or a subdued chub.
Plodding it's way toward us under decent pressure, it morphed. The plodder became a 100m runner. Belatedly out of the blocks and stripping line from the clutch with a sound like a cheap electric drill everything came to life.
It's been like this for me. The first few outings with a certain method or ambition never really have the Heineken effect until that day, usually sat alone, when a simple tweak to the idea and suddenly it will sing and dance.
We could, by now, see the fish in the shadow of a dense tree canopy. It looked disappointingly small at depth as I has braced myself for a 'double'. This was partly a strange notion, given the p.b. of only a few weeks prior was 7lbs 14ozs, and partly the result of knowledge. Not many barbel are offered-up by this stretch but when they are they are usually eleven to fourteen pounds.
Meanwhile, back at the branch, the fight was culminating in a series of increasingly desperate clutch-squealing lunges and on the final one, as soon as this fine adversary gave a hint of relaxation, over the string he came to be engulfed in brown fishnet like a shapely leg.
It continued to pour and as she hit the net the fish seemed 'small' in the sense that I had braced myself for a monster, for Barbus maxima.
In the weighing sling and at least four inches broad across the pectorals however this was surely a leviathon as compared to anything I'd seen previously. The 7.14 had seemed massive, this was significantly bigger.
The scales fluctuated between 173 and 182 ounces as she shuffled for comfort beneath. The sling would 'go' sixteen ounces on a dry day, today more. I prayed to the great fish god Gobio that it would come to rest at in excess of 176.
It did not, but no matter; a fish of nine-twelve was impressive enough in the flesh and, soaked in the gloom as we were by the incessant downpour, beaming smiles illuminated the scene.
Barbus notquiteicus slipped back with gusto and there had to be 'one more cast'.