Above seasonal temperatures and SW wind bringing rain – perfect for barbel fishing. The only problem is that the river season ended last week! Still, I wasn’t complaining as I started to get my tackle together to begin a bream campaign. When I was a kid it seemed that I could get all my fishing tackle in my creel (remember those!) and still have room left over. But nowadays I have that much stuff, I have literally taken over the house. And on that score, I am very thankful to my wife Debby!
But the disadvantage of having so much gear is that it’s easy to forget items – and I know all about leaving things at home. Hence, as I switched the contents of my rucksack from barbel to bream, I checked and double-checked, and even as I went to bed the night before I did a stream of tackle ticks to make sure every item had been selected.
In the past I’ve forgotten things such as bait, groundsheet, landing net, camera, bank stick and even once, a reel. However, I am happy to say that on this occasion everything I needed got packed away and ended up on the bank side of the gravel pit, which will be a familiar site over the next few weeks. With a few spots of rain in the air, the very first thing I did was to set up my shelter. It’s all about priorities, and keeping as dry as possible should always be high on the list.
Once that was sorted, I proceeded to put out a marker float. I have already done my homework and knew that there was a plateau about forty metres from the bank. Marking the distance with some power gum on the line, for future sessions all I need to do is cast out and wind back to the required place.
Once the float was positioned, the next step was to bait up. At such a short distance, I opted to send the balls of ground bait out with a catapult. I haven’t fired a catapult for twelve months, so was happy that every single shot resulted in bait going exactly where I wanted it. I guess it’s like riding a bike – once you’ve learnt the art, it never leaves you.
Finally, the rods were cast out and it was time to sit back and wait for some action. Although the bulk of my bigger bream in the past have come in darkness, and either dawn or dusk, nevertheless with an overcast sky and a good SW breeze across the pit, you can never rule out a day-time fish. And while the sun was still in the sky, the buzzer began to emit a steady stream of bleeps as the indicator moved slowly up and down.
However, just as everything looked promising, suddenly the trail went cold. Still, it was very encouraging, particularly as I had the whole night ahead of me to catch a fish. But that early excitement proved to be the only action of the session. Although I was very optimistic, by the time the sun was well up the following morning, I knew that my opportunity to catch a decent bream had passed. So, no fish photographs, but I had managed to get a good shot of the pit as darkness had set in, with the camera catching the water illuminated by the distant lights on the road.
I was back on the venue for a Friday night session, arriving early lunchtime. The cold days of just a week or so ago seemed a very distant memory as the temperature literally soared. It’s been a long time since I fished in a tee shirt! Once the rods were cast out, I settled back and rested on my bed chair, enjoying the warm weather. I then became aware of someone messing around my bivvy, trying to get my attention. I was handed a tract, which I instantly recognised as from the Jehovah’s Witnesses!
I’ve had then knocking my door at home on a number of occasions, but never on my bivvy door while fishing! I am actually an ordained evangelical Minister, and usually relish the opportunity of theological debate with cult members. But you’ve got to draw the line somewhere, and getting caught up in a lengthy conversation while fishing is definitely the wrong side of the line! So I simply took the leaflet and let them move on along the pit in search of another victim!
Although it was a hot day, as the sun set it began to feel fairly chilly. Anyone that stays out all night will know that is very often the case, particularly at this time of the year. Hence I had bought my all-in-one suit that I slipped into, ready for the night ahead. However I needn’t have bothered, as I didn’t have to leave the warmth of the sleeping bag all night – yes, I blanked!
Actually, in the almost two years of writing a weekly Angling Journal, I think this is only the second time that I have had a totally blank week. So it’s not that bad really I suppose. And I am fishing for big bream, which are a fickle quarry at the best of times. Packing away in the morning, I was already looking forward to my next session – I must be a real sucker for punishment!
(Originally published March 2005)