If only British Rail was this punctual (bream article, entry 97)

I’m really enjoying my bream campaign at the present, not least of all because I am actually catching something! And whilst I’m on just one fish per session, nevertheless that’s pretty good as far as the mix of the venue and big bream is concerned. The gravel pit I’m currently fishing has a reputation as a ‘hard’ venue, and when you throw bream into the equation, then one good fish per overnighter is a definite result!

With a strong breeze coming in from the SW, the conditions looked good, and my confidence was high as I dropped everything into the swim ready to begin the session. With a lovely sunny day I was actually in shorts and Wolves top, which is a lovely way to fish! However, I also took my all-in-one suit, as daytime temperatures this time of the year don’t hold up during the night. So once the sun began to set I was able to slip into the extra layer of clothing that would keep me warm through till dawn.

After putting out the marker float, the next task was to bait up. I am fishing dead maggots and corn and using brown crumb to mould balls about the size of a small orange. I set them out in the sun for just a few minutes, this gives them a very slight ‘crust’ on the outside, making catapulting much easier. If you are not experienced at mixing up groundbait, it is always advisable to keep some crumb back, just in case you add too much water and the mix is too sloppy. It’s easily done – I’ve been there and got the tee shirt!

Once the bait was positioned, I got everything else set up, finally getting the rods ready to cast out. I’m currently fishing fruit flavoured boilies on the hook and adding a few broken samples in the PVA bag of pellets I’m putting the hook bait in. When making a fresh batch of boilies, I always make a few extra large ones. My wife Debby says it’s because I get bored (I roll every boilie by hand!) and I suppose she has a point! But really it’s because as I’m only going to crumble them anyway it’s easier to make them over-sized.

Due to the wind, I had to re-cast one of my rods three times until I was totally happy with the position. Confidence plays a big part of angling, and there is no way I can settle back unless I know my bait is in the exact place I want it to be. After all, it will stay there until the morning, unless I get a fish in the meantime. So it’s crucial that I am satisfied with everything. Specimen bream angling is not like gudgeon fishing on the canal where you may cast in every thirty seconds!

Every bream that I have had on this campaign so far has come in the 10.00 p.m. hour slot, and so as the clock ticked round I felt my expectation level rise even higher than it already was. And not to disappoint me, the buzzer let out a couple of bleeps right on time. Striking into the fish – I already knew it was a bream from the movement on the indicator – I felt that lovely dead weight at the end! Bringing it in, I slipped the net under it and laid it on the unhooking mat. It was another good fish, but again short of the double mark.

After a couple of photographs, the fish swam off back into the deeps and I retired to my bed chair. The punctuality of the fish is amazing, you can almost set your watch by them as they move into the swim and then out again. No matter how much bait I’ve put out though, they visit for the hour and then they are off. I suppose I could find out the route they take and follow them! But you do have to admire their punctuality and as I stated in the title, they knock the railways for six. And yes, I do know that British Rail as such no longer exists, but somehow the ‘Strategic Rail Authority’ takes the preciseness away from the statement, so BR it is!

And the slogan ‘let the train take the strain’ was certainly very apt as I dozed off into a deep sleep, to wake again only as the dawn chorus gently brought me back into the land of the living! Lying there I could identify the song of several birds, including a Reed Warbler which had been singing at the time I had caught the bream. Its territory includes the reed bed right next to my peg and it is a lovely sound to nod off to.

Stretching out and gazing across the lake, I was quickly on my feet though and standing over the pod, as the left-hand indicator moved up and down in a gentle fashion. ‘Ah’ I though to myself, ‘the curse of the 10 p.m. bream is about to be broken’. And even on the retrieve I thought that to be true. But suddenly, almost as if the fish had only just realised it had been hooked, about four lengths from the bank it came alive. You know it’s no bream when you have to back-wind and let out line!

After a moment or two, allowing the fish to expend all its energy, I slipped the net under a tench. Weighing in at 5-8-8, it was certainly a nice bonus fish to add to the bream. It also reminded me that in a month’s time (the venue I’m referring to follows the traditional season) I will be having a short summer tench campaign. I only have one problem as far as angling is concerned – there are simply not enough days in the year to do everything I want to do. Still, it doesn’t stop me trying!

(Originally published May 2005)

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