It was a really warm day as I drove on the well-worn route that took me to the venue I am currently fishing. So much so in fact that I had the air conditioning on for the first time proper since last summer. With hot and sticky days perhaps not that far off, I find myself thinking of eel sessions, which I intend to begin shortly. However, if I continue to do well on the gravel pit, I may postpone an eel campaign for a month or two. And with this week’s session being my best yet, Anguilla anguilla may have to wait a little longer I feel.
Arriving to find just one other angler on the water, I was able once more to drop into my chosen peg. In the three spring campaigns I have been on the pit, not once has my first choice swim ever been taken. This is a combination of the fact that I fish mid-week and that it isn’t a recognised carp peg (I have not had a single fish from there) and the only carp anglers that do fish it do so with a boat taking the bait out 100 metres or more. To my knowledge I am the only angler that fishes the venue specifically for bream.
I’m always thinking through my tactics and rigs and this time I added shrink tube on the shank of the hook to get the presentation just right. I also changed the bait to an artificial corn kept buoyant by a chunk of foam. I always test my rigs prior to actually casting out – I wouldn’t be able to sit back otherwise. Once everything is ready I drop the terminal tackle into my natural clear water experiment tank – all 40 acres of it! Yes, I use the margins of the pit, which at just a few inches deep is perfect for the job.
From time to time I still feel a little uneasy about using artificial baits. And I doubt I will use them in other areas of my fishing, but on this campaign I have to admit that they are just right. No more sucked corn without realising it (several times I have reeled in everything in the morning only to discover that the hair rig was bare), which gives you that extra confidence knowing that there is always bait in the water – albeit plastic and rubber!
After baiting up and casting out, I settled back to enjoy the sunshine, before eventually retiring for the night. Well I certainly had a quiet one, with the alarms remaining silent. I use a sounder box connected to the alarms via cable. With the box in the shelter with me, it means that I can keep all noise to a minimum. It’s great when you get a fish, but I’m sure that everyone else in a one-mile radius isn’t really that interested.
But at 6.15 the next morning, the buzzer came to life. The swinger shot to the top and continued to move. Not enough to indicate anything other than a bream had taken the bait, but certainly a feisty one compared to some of the bites I have had. Actually though, just prior to realising that I did have a fish on the end, I thought that I had connected with a tufted duck as there were a couple of birds diving over the baited area.
But a fish it was, and although not even 8lb, it was still nice to get off the mark. With the rest of the day not only being very warm but also no breeze at all to ruffle the surface of the pit, I knew it was going to be a hard slog. And so it was, although I did take the opportunity to doze off on my bedchair and enjoy the weather. As the afternoon wore on though it was time to get ready for the dusk period, catapulting balls of groundbait into the swim laced with corn and dead maggots. Then when that was done, I cast out the rods and put them on the pod, hopefully to await some action.
And action I got! With the night being quite young, a few bleeps alerted me to the fact that a bream had taken the bait on the left-hand rod that was positioned to the side of the plateau in front of me. Lifting into the fish it didn’t feel particularly that big, but as I slipped the net under it I began to wonder. If you have been reading my Angling Journal regularly you will know that I have been ‘chasing’ a double from the venue.
So imagine my delight when the scales went to exactly that – 10lb. Not an ounce more and not an ounce less! I don’t have the information in front of me, but at a guess over the last couple of years or so I have caught around 30 double figure barbel. And I would gladly have exchanged a few of those for the elusive bream that I have narrowly missed out on a couple of times with fish of 9lb 14 oz.
But good things come to those who wait, and even though there were no more fish for the rest of the evening, it was a case of mission accomplished and that did me. I think the eel campaign can wait a little longer…
(Originally published May 2006)