Canal carp and playing for Leeds United
Left to right: One of the badgers on the far bank, the first common of the session, another badger shot, the second carp
I thought we had seen the last of the bad weather but this week it returned with a vengeance. With the wind direction changing to a cold north-easterly, parts of the UK saw significant snowfall. And for those of us who avoided the white stuff we still had to contend with overnight frosts. I continued with my canal carp fishing campaign, although I would probably have been more seasonal going for pike. It was a miserable day as I arrived in my chosen spot for session one. Cold and wet were the two words to describe the day, but you never catch sitting at home so I just got on with it.
On this occasion though I didn’t catch while out on the bank either. But, as long as your bait is in the water then you have a chance. The days are getting longer now and as soon as we see an upturn in the weather (for the fish, not for my benefit) I will probably do some overnighters on the canal. Now that I have established there are carp in the stretch it is going to be a viable proposition to fish right through the hours of darkness. And who knows, the main feeding spell may well be after when I am currently packing away, which is between midnight and 1.00am. And for all I know there may be a real monster that passes through the swim at 1.05 every night!
And just a few days later everything changed weather-wise, and my desire to fish an overnighter became a reality. The wind direction switched to a warm SW and the temperature rapidly climbed, so much so that for the first time this year the overnight air temperature was going to stay in double figures. And the forecasters were spot on as well, all I needed during the hours of darkness was a light pullover and a tee shirt. I thought to myself that if this continues I will be eel fishing sooner rather than later. But first there is business to do with the canal carp.
And a happy deal was struck, well at least from my angle anyway. It didn’t look too promising however, as well into dusk a late boat came through. Of course by then I had put all my pigeon conditioner seeds out. These things can’t be helped though, and as I thought about it, the slight churning combined with increased carp activity due to the warmer weather would actually get the fish rooting around and keep them in the area longer. The big plus though was that the boat slowed down as it went through. I certainly appreciate it when they do that as they don’t have to. A little respect, flexibility and courtesy and we can all get along fine.
And I certainly seem to be doing just that with my friends the badgers. The slightest noise and they are back in the sett, whether that be bikes coming along the towpath or even distant voices. But somehow I seem to have been accepted. Of course I’d like to think it’s because they sense no danger but in reality it’s my quiet position as I blend in with the hedge behind me that probably makes the difference. But whatever they think of me, I have most definitely become attached to them. I watched one adult and two young animals for a prolonged period well before dark and then as silhouettes well into it. I also captured them on video and they feature in that.
But the main star of the show is the common carp that I landed an hour or so into dark. On the left-hand rod, it went tearing along the canal, the piscatorial equivalent of Usain Bolt. Even as I lifted into it and applied pressure it continued to power on, its undoing coming as it turned against the force of the rod and came back towards me. Prior to that moment I was just about to follow it down the canal, expecting to net it 100 metres on! But eventually it tired and I was able to slip the net under it and lift it out of the water. I didn’t weigh it but it was definitely the best fish of the sessions so far on the canal. Result!
Exactly an hour later and I had another fish, this time at the other end of the scale, as it was a chub about 10oz. The rest of the night saw several liners/chub runs but no more fish until dawn. It was another common but this time a smaller one. In great condition though and evidence to the fact that they aren’t being caught. Well, they aren’t being fished for actually and you can see that by the undisturbed bank side vegetation. It’s like having my own private fishery; who needs an expensive syndicate! Apart from the badgers, I was entertained by a skylark singing over the far bank field where there is also a nesting site. I also saw my first common tern of the year as I walked back to the car and the dawn chorus started at exactly 3.50am with a single whitethroat leading the way.
And finally, I was woken by the bite alarm that caught me having a dream and so as I was disturbed during it, it was so real that even now I can recall it clearly. I was having a conversation with Simon Grayson, the Leeds United manager. Leeds had just won something and it obviously benefited Wolves in some way as I asked Simon to bring the trophy down to Molineux to parade before the Wolves fans! He then asked me if I fancied playing in the last Leeds game of the season. I said yes, I’ll come on for the last 90 seconds, he said no you can play for the final 3 minutes. It’s Rochdale isn’t it? I asked, No it’s Exeter he replied. Aren’t dreams bizarre!
Video number 25 on list
(Originally published May 2010)