I have a couple of good friends who are really intrigued by my angling adventures, certainly when I fish all night, and even more so when I do it in the winter! The guy is a professional footballer (so not someone you would associate with the rough and tumble of all-weather angling!), and his wife in particular thinks I am an anorak of the highest order! But she does say I am a nice anorak, so at least it is complimentary!
But as I have explained to her, although we may not be in the Louis Vuitton class as anglers, we do have our own equivalent of the ‘poser’ which we call the tackle tart! But it is the anorak label that is the hardest to get rid off. Coupled with my interest in birds, I guess it’s just there to stay as far as she is concerned. But recently I hit new levels of anorakness (I just made the word up!) in her eyes when my wife bought me a book of British trees for my birthday!
I don’t know if you are like me, but it’s the whole package of everything that goes with angling that I appreciate. It’s an old cliché, but fishing is more than just catching fish. For a while I have been looking at trees when I’ve been out and about and wondering what species they are. So I finally decided to do something about it and branch out into tree spotting. (Yes, pun intended!).
With a bream session this week, there was certainly plenty of time after casting out to check out the local tree talent. Right behind me was a Common Hawthorn, with its white flowers providing a beautiful backdrop to the swim. (I never knew until now that there is also another species, the Midland Hawthorn). In addition I identified a Sallow and a Common Osier, both growing along the edge of the gravel pit. It did take me a while to be sure though what species they were. I stood there for ages in front of the trees, book in hand, working them out. I had some funny looks from the couple of passers-by!
Anyway, onto the fishing, because is after all an Angling Journal! It was actually a beautiful day and I walked to the swim in shorts and tee shirt. However, knowing only too well the weather at this time of the year, I also took my fleece under suit and all-in-one Sundridge, as it can get pretty chilly during the night itself. With a breezy NE wind blowing right into the bank I was fishing, I had to be prepared for a cold night.
And as soon as the sun started to drop over the horizon, it was time to get into the sleeping bag and snuggle up in the foetus position to try to keep warm. I’d had a particularly long week and very soon I was ‘up the wooden hills’ and asleep. Due to the wind though, I was getting constant single bleeps on the bite alarms, but as they were well spread out and coincided with gusts, there was no need to leave the comfort of the bag.
But at 10.00 p.m. when not only did the alarm emit a number of bleeps but the swinger also registered movement, I was out of the sleeping bag in seconds, boots on standing over the pod. It’s a tremendous feeling, when after big bream, to watch the indicator crawl up and down at such a gentle leisurely pace, and then to strike into the culprit at the other end of the line. Let’s face it, targeting this species can be most demanding as far as mental stamina is concerned and you literally rejoice every time you get a take! Big bream angling is not for those who want a fish every five minutes.
Reeling the fish in (because that’s about all you do with bream!) it was good to slip the net under it and lay it on the unhooking mat. I could see that it wasn’t quite a double, but any fish pushing the ten-pound barrier is still a good one in my book. A couple of photographs later and I returned it back to the gravel pit where it swam happily off back into deeper water.
As soon as I had my first glance at the fish I noticed its tubercules. These are the nodules that appear on the male fish at spawning time. Some fish are more affected than others are, and this particular one was one of the most severe I have come across. Back home I showed the picture to my 17-year-old daughter and told her never to complain about the odd zit again! But although it looks bad (the tubercules not the zits!) it doesn’t appear to do any harm to the fish and is more to do with aesthetics than anything else. And even then it’s only from a human point of view!
No more fish were tempted during the session and I slept on peacefully, as even the wind had dropped giving me no more false alarms. I was woken abruptly though at the crack of dawn by a face appearing in my shelter. ‘Hello Derek’ it said. ‘Oh sorry, wrong person’ before disappearing off to find the real Derek! At that I decided to get up, make a cup of tea and then begin to slowly pack away as I had a busy day of work ahead of me. But it had been a good night, and that’s three sessions on the trot I have managed a single bream in each one. As I said earlier, big bream fishing is not for those who want lots of action!
(Originally published May 2005)