Farewell old friend (eel article, entry 47)

I suppose we all look for different things when we consider what car we choose to drive. Colour, fuel, economy, sunroof, bodywork – all these are factors that may influence the vehicle that we end up purchasing. However, as far as I am concerned, there is one overriding factor when choosing a car – can I get my fishing tackle in!

For the last five years I have driven a Rover 400. As it is a hatchback, it means that I can lay the back seats flat and easily get enough gear in for a lengthy session. On the other hand, with a split seat, if I’m doing a light chub or barbel trip, then I can comfortably get everything loaded without too much effort.

Hence, as it was time to change my car, I wasn’t faced with any major decision making at all. It was an easy enough task to see the car I liked, go for test drive and shake hands on the deal. And that’s exactly what I did. I was due to pick it up on the Tuesday afternoon from the garage, so the fishing trip I made on the Monday night would be the last one for my blue Rover, before the red one took its place.

I’m certainly not sentimental about cars. To me they are just a means to an end not the actual end themselves. Therefore I have never given any of my cars a name – they have all been just simply ‘car’. And so it was, as ‘car’ transported my fishing tackle for the final time, there was no sentimentality involved.

However, I must say that it has been a faithful servant (apart from when a cowboy mechanic got his grubby hands on it, but that’s another story!) and so I thought the least I could do was to dedicate an article to it!

As the days are now quite long, and I was on an eel session, I didn’t bother leaving the house till quite late. I was ready to cast out by 9.15 p.m. which gave me plenty of time to set the bed chair up at the side of the lake and lay out the unhooking mat, landing net etc.

It was a warm day, and although dry at night, the forecast was for the temperature to plummet as low as 4C. For those who aren’t used to night fishing, daytime temperatures can be misleading as far as the hours of darkness are concerned. Still, I was well prepared and didn’t feel the cold, as I lay there stretched out under the stars waiting for a bite.

I was fishing a gudgeon head on one rod and the tail section on another. I had several bleeps through the night, but unfortunately, by the time the sun had risen, I was fish-less. Driving home, I spent the time analysing the session, trying to work out why I had failed to connect with an eel during the night.

I don’t know about you, but I am always thinking about my angling and working through every session in a sort of post-trip critique. As I am new to eel angling, every current angling trip is a steep learning curve.

My next session wasn’t an eel trip as such, just an evening visit to the local canal to stock up on gudgeon deadbaits! However, I decided to take one eel rod, so that as darkness fell, I could fish for a couple of hours to see if there were any eels around.

Within five minutes of casting out I had a screaming run which resulted in a perch! In the next half-hour I had a further four runs, but failed to connect with any fish. I did suspect perch though, and as it eventually went dark, the rod remained very quiet. Mind, as far as the gudgeon were concerned, I spent four hours fishing and only caught one! There must be an angling law that says when you don’t want to catch something you end up unable to avoid them, but when you want them, you can’t buy a bite!

To round off the week, I was back at the lake in pursuit of an eel or two, although the way it’s going I’d have settled for just the one! It was another dry night, which meant I could again stretch out under the stars on the bed chair, ready to pounce on the rods in the event of a bleep registering on the buzzer.

As we are now fast approaching the longest day (or shortest night!) of the year, it didn’t get fully dark until the minute hand had begun the upward climb to 11.00 p.m. Combined with the full moon we have had this last week, it remained a fairly light night overall.

I had several bleeps, and each time I could feel the small eels at the other end as they wrestled with the baits. I did have one eel on in the early hours, but it came off at the surface. Fortunately it was just a small one, so I wasn’t left to rue the one that got away. By the time the clock passed 3.00-a.m. daylight slowly started to creep in, and as it got slowly lighter and lighter, I knew my chances of an eel were getting slimmer by the minute. However, right at the very end as I was about to pack away, I hooked and landed the first eel of the week. It was just a bootlace though, and I didn’t bother with either the camera or the scales.

I was back home and in bed before 6.00-a.m. catching up on lost sleep. Night fishing, although it can be very productive, can also be draining from a physical point of view. Even when I manage to get my head down whilst fishing, it’s never more than a catnap, and isn’t the same as sleeping in my own bed at home. Still, I’m not complaining, because as my wife says – no one makes me stay out all night!

Eel Campaign


Eels………5 (Best 1-10-12)

(Originally published June 2004)

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