Killing two birds with one stone
‘I have just lost the rudd of a lifetime’….. ‘I feel gutted for you, I understand how you feel. But I’m sure you’ll catch it next time’ ….. ‘I hope so, and if you want to join me, you are very welcome’ ….. ‘I am tempted’ ….. ‘Is that a nibble?’ ….. ‘I think you could have a fish on!’…. thus ran the gist of an internet exchange between Stuart Maddocks and myself when he first posted on facebook that he had lost a 3lb+ fish just beyond net range. One word I would never use to describe myself is ‘cynical’ but when it comes to angling and in particular, reports of fish that some fishermen claim to catch, ‘healthy skepticism’ is definitely in my vocabulary!
But having been in fairly regular correspondence with Stu over a period of five years, I knew that if he was telling the story it was not going to be the angling version of Jackanory! Although we had never met, you can certainly get a very good idea of where people are coming from, and on that front I never even had the tiniest doubt whatsoever; the news was not received with even a minute grain of salt! I had nothing but empathy for how Stu felt and then when the invitation came to fish the water, I thought I can kill two birds with one stone here (hence the name of the article). Obviously to be on a venue that contains good quality rudd (well at least one anyway!) but also to meet Mr Maddocks at last.
Hundreds of fringed water-lilies
Hence I found myself rising in response to an alarm that showed 2.45 am, making my way downstairs and getting ready to be on my way, at a time when I am often embracing my bed rather than deserting it. I had an ‘early night’ a few hours before, finding myself tucked up by midnight. I’m not a ‘morning person’ though and apart from situations that I can’t avoid, the only thing that can get me up at this sort of time is a fishing trip. But in due course I found myself driving the deserted roads, eventually meeting up with Stu at the designated place. And within minutes we are parked and walking around the pool that was to be home for the next sixteen hours!
The first thing that struck was that this was going to be a beautiful pool indeed once the day progressed. The reason for that was a good proportion of the surface of the water was covered with fringed water-lilies. They are one of the prettiest of our native water plants and the small leaves, as opposed to the larger ones of other species, in my view add to the stunning effect as spread out across a body of water. And they also close their flowers from dusk onwards, opening them again as the day progresses. And with a sunny afternoon forecast, I knew that I was in for a treat. There were also dense clumps of reed mace in places around the pool – these are what people call bulrushes. So although you may wonder what the former is, I’m sure the latter instantly brings an image to mind. And with numerous other plants around I knew that if the fishing was slow I’d have plenty of other things to occupy my mind.
Worth getting out of bed for!
But apart from taking photographs of a few butterflies (comma, meadow brown, gatekeeper) and some great willowherb plants, my time was spent pretty much rod in hand striking at bites! I fished for about sixteen hours and in that time there was never a lull. I’ve never had that before – ever! Although there are hectic times, you still get periods when the fish slow down. But the roach and rudd never let up, as soon as my bait hit the water I had a bite every cast. I even had a perch that must have caught the infectious mass hysteria, joined in and thought ‘I’ll have some of that’ as he wolfed down a single grain of corn! If I say that I caught hundreds of fish during the day, that is not an exaggerated statement at all. Stu’s approach was very different to mine. Whilst I was wading through the small ones knowing that I would pick up the occasional quality fish, by presenting a bigger bait on the surface he was taking the ‘all-or-nothing’ road.
And whilst neither of us caught the monster that we really would have liked, the reality is that we had a great day. I enjoyed meeting Stu and testament to how comfortable I felt with him was the practical joke I played. At one stage during the day he decided to walk the pool, throwing in surface baits to see if anything special was in the area. When he went I took his rod and hid it. Passing me, prior to getting back to his swim, I told him that a couple of lads had been messing around his peg and that I had shouted at them, before they then ran away. Of course he went back and a quick glance assured him that nothing had been taken. That was until I saw him hands on hips looking around. I had to do my best to keep a straight face as I shouted across to him ‘What’s the matter’. ‘The little blighters’ he replied, ‘they have taken my rod.’ And yes, he really did say ‘little blighters’!
Another quality fish from the pool
Tackle-wise I was fishing a 3BB crystal waggler, 4lb Maxima mainline and 3.5lb Drennan Team England hooklength. The hook was a size 14 Drennan Super Specialist and I used a single grain of corn on the hook. I shot the float so that the bait would get through the upper layer of small fish quite quickly and then reach the bigger ones. That was the theory anyway, but in practice the swim was alive with hundreds of ravenous small rudd. Not that I am complaining, I enjoyed my day out very much, and I caught more fish on that one session than I will catch on the other 149 I will do this year! To keep the fish feeding I constantly put out brown crumb, dead maggots and corn, getting through kilos of bait during the day. If I fished the water regularly though I would adopt a different approach, and who knows I may well get to put my theories to the test!
By the end of the day as time came to pack away my body was aching! My fishing is more of a cast-out-sit-back approach where one fish per session is the order of the day. But am I complaining? No way! I’d sooner have aching limbs from catching fish – albeit mostly smaller ones – than from washing up or ironing. Come to think of it, I don’t do those so maybe not a good illustration! But I think you get my point. And the icing on the cake of a perfect day came as I was loading the car and a barn owl glided past. I quickly grabbed my camcorder and the initial disappointment of thinking I had lost it was very soon forgotten as the bird came flying low towards me alongside the pond. I saw it catch a small mammal and then fly out of view. What a great day it was. Thanks Stu!
(click icon above for this week’s video)
(Originally published July 2009)