Going artificial on the bait front (bream article, entry 145)

Following on from the vandalism incident that I wrote about in last week’s article, it was comforting to know that my car was safe as I began the long walk to the gravel pit from where I had parked. But the walk didn’t bother me; at least I knew there would be a car to go back to once my session had ended. Sadly, when we consider venues to fish, one of the most important factors is actually nothing to do with angling at all, but rather the safety of the car.

My chosen peg was free on arrival at the pit, and so sweating after the walk, I lay my tackle on the familiar ground and had a rest. With the day being very mild the sweat glands had certainly been working overtime, as I trudged around the venue pushing the barrow that was laden with all my gear. Unpacking everything, I put the marker float in position and began to catapult balls of groundbait on and around the plateau that was directly in front of me.

I am currently taking a big bucket of brown crumb, and mixing dead maggots and sweetcorn in, so that each time I fire a ball of bait out it is laden with goodies to attract the big bream that inhabit the pit. Prior to starting the campaign I had about twenty pints of dead maggots in my bait freezer at home, although that number has now been seriously reduced. No such problems with the corn though, as the local Co-op has plenty of stocks of that.

Over the last two seasons I have been fishing with fruit flavoured boilies, but this campaign I started out with one boilie rod and the other sweetcorn – both pop-ups. Over the time spent on the pit I have gradually switched to corn on both rods, and the results are certainly up on the previous years. However, as fishing is not scientific in any way, shape or form you can’t really read too much into that. But confidence is important, and casting out two rods baited with corn has given me plenty of that.

Also, my bait has evolved in another way too. I have never been a fan of artificial baits. Don’t ask me why, I can’t give you a legitimate reason other than to say it doesn’t feel right. However, casting out for long periods of time means that smaller fish will reduce real corn to nothing, without even giving an indication that they are doing so. While you’re waiting for action, there’s not even any bait out there! Hence my decision to finally succumb to the times and give the artificial version a try.

Well I must confess how pleasantly surprised I have been. I hedged my bets at first by fishing one rod real and the other artificial. (But even then, the two real grains still sandwiched a piece of yellow foam as I was fishing pop-up style). Gradually though as each cast has given me an ever-increasing confidence, I have ditched the real stuff and gone totally man-made. Although I was slow in coming on board, I have now happily embraced the idea of fishing little bits of yellow rubber instead of the real thing.

On to the actual fishing, I didn’t have long to wait once it had got dark before the buzzer came to life. And with line actually being stripped from the reel I knew that this was not a bream but a tench. And so, as I slipped the net under the fish, it came as no surprise to find a nice tinca enfolded in the mesh. The only problem though was that the fish was so feisty it had run across the line of the other rod. In fact it had made such a mess that I had to cut both rods free and start again. And no sooner had I cast out once more than I had another tench, but this time I lost the fish.

Settling back into my shelter I realised that for the first time in ages I was doing a night session without my Sundridge suit. Wearing just my normal clothes, it was a welcome sign that the weather is finally turning round. Not that I am putting away the suit just yet though! Wrapping the sleeping bag around me, I was soon flinging it free in the early hours as I hooked into another tench and a bream at the same time.

When you’ve got two fish on at once this can sometimes create problems – but not when one is a bream! Although the tench was bigger than the first one, I released it without photographing, instead setting up the camera for the bream. Well, that is my target species after all and it’s always nice when you catch your chosen quarry.

The rest of the night was quiet and I got some sleep. I was up nice and early though when the bream scored a late equaliser against the tench to make the score 2-2. It wasn’t much of a bite, reminiscent of the fish I had last week. A couple of single bleeps on the indicator several minutes apart, and that’s all the warning I got. It was only the fact that it was a perfectly still morning that made me think it was a fish, otherwise I’d have put it down to the wind.

It turned out to be the biggest fish of the session, just short of 9lb. But with the venue being a hard nut to crack at times, four fish in one overnight session wasn’t bad really. Well actually it was very good, just a shame that I haven’t got my first double yet. But there’s plenty of time for that, and I am confident that I will do it. And it certainly won’t be for lack of trying if I don’t!

 (Originally published April 2006)

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