What a difference a day – or at least a couple of days – makes. The previous visit I made to the local canal it was raining and windy, and it definitely felt that winter was on its way. Yet here I was, sweating because I had put a jumper on, walking along the towpath, with the evening sun still strong and powerful as it hung just over the horizon. But that’s the beauty of the English weather, you never know what is around the corner.
The last visit I made, I was literally racing against the clock to get set up, as darkness was falling fast. But this time I was able to set up at a more leisurely pace, which I much prefer. The first thing I did was to mix water with the brown and white crumb that I had brought with me in my bait bucket. As I was only fishing one length out, I made the mix fairly sloppy so that not only would it settle on the bottom, but it would also create a cloud as it hit the water, thus attracting roach, my target species.
I always mix any groundbait at the water’s edge, using water from the venue. I don’t fancy the idea of doing it at home with tap water, much preferring to go totally ‘natural’. Of course it’s all down to the choice of the individual angler, but I feel that doing it ‘on site’ is by far the best way. The brown crumb I use is from a commercial sack whilst the white is from slices of bread that I roll in my hands at home, thus giving a slightly larger size to the latter. As I’m fishing white bread on the hook, this is intentional.
Casting out, it wasn’t long before the float started to twitch and dip. Yes, the roach were about! There’s no putting the rod in a rest and sitting back waiting for the fish to hook themselves when pursuing this species. Instead, it’s a case of rod in hand, trying to hit the lightning bites that are synonymous with roach. I must confess that I do probably miss far more than I hit, but when you do connect with a fish, it’s always rewarding to lift a nice looking roach from the water – and even more so if it is landing net size!
And I did have a few of those. OK, they may not be considered monsters, and definitely wouldn’t make the pages of the national angling press, but they were good fish for the venue. And when determining what a specimen really is, the local factor is the absolute crucial criteria. And I really enjoyed catching them, which of course is the whole object of fishing in the first place. If you aren’t enjoying it, you need to re-evaluate.
During the course of my canal session I had a steady trickle of fish, all roach apart from the odd greedy gudgeon. And I didn’t mind those really. Just like the sparrows that come on my feeders at home; I’m not like some people who get annoyed and want only the ‘better’ birds. Now that the winter is fast approaching there may well be times when the odd gudgeon or two will be most welcome indeed!
In fact I was so enjoying the session that I simply didn’t want to pack away! I usually give myself an approximate time that I intend to finish and I’m very happy to stick to that, which is usually governed by what I’m up to anyway the next day. But on this occasion I was severely afflicted with the ‘one more cast’ disease that is peculiar to anglers! The bottom line is that I simply didn’t want to go home!
It was finally the early hours before I reeled in for the last time, and even then, as I broke the rod down I was thinking about my next session. Thoroughly enjoying the session? Hate to pack away? Can’t wait to get back? Now, that’s what angling is all about.
(Originally published September 2005)