Carp, badgers, tawny owls and an otter
Left to right: one of the chub caught, the badgers on the far bank, the carp on session four
I’ve always been the sort of angler that has been excited by the unknown. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no issue at all with those who know every fish in the venue, what weights they are and even their names. It’s not a problem at all and I do fish waters myself where that is pretty much the case, but personally I much prefer the not-knowing-factor. You cast out and you really have no idea what is lurking beneath the surface of the water. I was like that even as a kid, always dreaming that there was a real record-breaking monster waiting to take my bait. But whilst I am now more realistic in terms of what I will possibly catch, nevertheless that sense of the unknown is still a powerful driving force in my fishing.
And that’s why I’ve been very much relishing the opportunity to carp fish on the stretch of canal I am currently on. The undisturbed vegetation is testament to the fact that it is un-fished. And when you tackle a section like that, there’s nothing more encouraging than catching an early fish to boost your campaign. And so it was that the carp I caught on my second trip last week really fired me up; not that I need much in the way of prodding really. This week saw me take my fourth long walk along the towpath to reach my destination. And what a night it was. There were very heavy showers that left me soaked through. Even a distant thunder and lightning storm started to show, but thankfully that didn’t come any closer.
I only landed one small chub on a tutti frutti boilie but I did have a carp on that unfortunately did a runner, or in angling terms a hook-pull. But even though it was a lost fish, I was still encouraged that I had connected with a carp as it showed there were fish out there. I’m still very much at the stage of sussing it all out. But that’s all part of the excitement and I’m enjoying the learning curve of discovery. On the nature front I noticed a lot of flowers starting to come through now and my walk to the swim saw me note greater stitchwort, garlic mustard and green alkanet amongst others. I was entertained by a dusk skylark singing high in the sky over neigbouring fields but the highlight were the local badgers who again put in an appearance.
On my next visit, although it was dry the weather had taken a definite downturn. I was thinking to myself as I fished that the river season is just a month away and here I am wrapped up in my Sundridge all-in-one suit and I shouldn’t have cold toes in May. And by the time I got back to the car pushing 1.00am I was actually scraping ice from the windshield. As for the fishing, well I had a carp on but lost it to a snapped hook length. Rather than the encouragement of the previous lost fish I felt a little frustration at this one. I had now moved beyond the stage where I wondered if there were any carp in there. I know know that there are but also that I’m not going to get many bites of the cherry. It also saw me make my first adjustment of my set-up as I switched to braid on the business end.
The badgers were also very active as before and I got some great footage of them on video, and with the light being better than the previous session the film came out more clearly as well. But it’s carp that I really want and fired up by my two lost fish, and motivated to net one, I was back again for another late session. And it really was a late one as I arrived well into dusk. With a busy work day behind me I didn’t finish until after 8.00pm, but still managed to cast out by 9! Getting straight to the point I had no carp action this time but did catch a small chub. But what I missed out on as far as fish were concerned I more than made up for with wildlife. Stuck in traffic during the day I saw my first goshawk of the year, a female in flight over urban Dudley.
Then of course ‘my’ badgers put in their regular appearances. There are two animals that I had identified up to that point, both with different characters. One sniffs in my direction and is then off on its way while the other sits there peeping at me through the grass. And to round the day off (well, technically the next as it was pushing 1.00am) I saw my first canal otter. As a naturalist and an angler I have feet in both camps and so have mixed feelings regarding otters. I tend to sit on the fence a lot on some issues, not having strong convictions either way.; or at least understanding both sides of the argument. The otter came right through my swim only diving a few feet in front of me once it spotted me. At least I’ve got something to blame when I blank.
My fourth and final session of the week was pretty much the same as the others in terms of swim, bait and tactics. Having had two lost carp already I was pretty keen (I will avoid the word ‘desperate’) to actually land one this time. I was confident though and that’s a big plus; after all what’s the point of going fishing if you have conceded defeat before you even leave home. My first fish was a small chub and they tear off in the same way that a carp would. It’s only when you lift into it that you know what it is, or rather what it isn’t. But even then, as I found with my last chub of the trip, pushing 1.00am you sometimes think you have a carp on for a few seconds so aggressive is the reaction and the pull.
In between the two though I did manage my target species. It wasn’t a massive fish but from the venue and the pioneering circumstances surrounding its capture I was a very happy man as I made my way back to the car on what has become a well-worn route. By the time I get back home and finally to bed 2.00am was fast approaching. I don’t know where I get my energy from. Well actually I do, it’s a combination of things with lifestyle and attitude pretty much top of the list. And finally, writing this article the next day ready for publication I didn’t struggle for a title. After a couple of tawny owl sightings plus the discovery of three badgers on the final trip seen at one time, I knew that there must be a nature theme to it, after all I had enjoyed that aspect of the week so much. So ‘carp, badgers, tawny owls and an otter’ it is. All on the canal as well. can’t be bad.
Video number 20 on list
(Originally published May 2010)