Left to right: roach from the canal… the only eel of the week… another canal roach… a Dudmaston tench… the early bumblebee on my hand
Still on the eel trail, and still catching – just
I have nothing but admiration for the dedicated single-species angler. The barbel fisherman who sits by the river bank in the middle of February when the water temperature is 3C; the eel angler who can’t wait until summer and begins his campaign in March when it’s going to be hard going but he can’t help himself; the carper who beds in for a marathon session against all the odds because that’s the fish he loves. You know the sort of thing I mean. But on a personal level, I consider myself a genuine all-rounder and that is borne out by even a causal glance at my weekly Angling Journal entries, which are listed by species.
Mostly I fish for whatever takes my fancy, after all isn’t angling meant to be pleasurable. We are supposed to enjoy not endure. Whatever I target though may be influenced by the conditions and with eels being such a limited species if we are to maximise our chances, a look at the weather forecast had me getting my snake catching gear ready for action. Words such as ‘muggy’ and ‘humid’ combined with overnight lows of mid-teens saw me put my barbel, perch and carp ideas to the back burner as I decided to pursue pythons. One of the great advantages is that you can keep your rods made up, arrive at the water’s edge, throw in a few dead maggots and be fishing in no time at all.
And that’s exactly what happened as it was only a case of minutes from leaving home to sitting by the canal with the rods on the sticks and the worms in the water. Due to other commitments I arrived quite late but with the eels on the venue being pretty much night-time feeders I didn’t feel that I was losing out. Fishing a free running ¼ ounce lead and an ultra-light hanger with weights removed, resistance was kept to a minimum; although on that front I believe that change in resistance is as important, that’s what the fish will notice more. Not that I’m saying heavy leads are OK, I’m sure you get the point I’m making.
Fishing at 10.00pm I stayed right through till almost 2.00am. I didn’t have any eels – they are finicky at the best of times – but did have a cracking (for the venue) roach and a couple of nocturnal perch. They obviously didn’t read the script as perch do not feed at night. I didn’t catch my preferred species but at least I didn’t blank. With this style of – not to mention time of day – fishing really convenient for me I was back a day later. Do my work, have a rest and something to eat and then I’m back out again on the late shift. And that was the pattern for the following day. It was another warm dry night, just as the forecasters had predicted, apart from a few light showers in the early hours which weren’t in the script either.
It’s always nice when you get your target species and that’s what happened about an hour into dark. It was just a small one though and from the indication I thought it was a roach plucking at the worm. But they all count and particularly with eels, it’s always with a sense of achievement that you net the fish you are pursuing. I added another roach, again a decent one for the venue. It’s these sort of chance encounters that you store at the back of your mind. If you’re catching good ones on eel gear in the summer, it’s worth keeping that as an option for the winter when you can specifically set out to catch them with the right tackle. I just wish there were more days in the week, weeks in the month and years in my life.
My final eel session of the week saw me back at Dudmaston Big pool on the second Kinver Freeliners ‘eel night’ of the year so far. Whilst the club itself is a very progressive outfit as far as bans, rules and regulations are concerned, nevertheless like any other angling organisation they are subject to conditions of lease. And one of them on this venue is ‘no night fishing’. But a limited number of slots are available each year and this was one of them. My chosen peg was not free but that was fine as I had a number of options up my sleeve. Arriving there at the last minute I had to make sure alternatives were on the cards. So I was more than happy to set up camp where I did.
It was another warm night and I never had to go beyond the tee-shirt. Good eel conditions really, but the problem with Dudmaston having such limited access for nights is that you don’t have any form to go on. But in a way the challenge of that makes it more interesting. I didn’t catch an eel, but to the best of my knowledge neither did any of the other anglers on the water during the night. I wasn’t a blanker though as a tench came out to play at 4.00am. A couple of months ago it would have been well into daylight but now we are still some time off the sun rising. The dark winter nights will soon be upon us!
I did see a barn owl in flight across the pool just as first light was making its way onto the scene. I do like my nature and as I write this I have just had an early bumblebee on my hand outside my office. That reference is to the species by the way not an horological one. What most people don’t realise is that bees and wasps don’t go round just stinging humans for the sake of it. Their sting is a protective defence mechanism, so if you start flapping and behaving like some do when a wasp goes within 100 metres of them, it’s not surprised that they react the way they do.
I will allow bees and wasps to walk over my uncovered arms and have never been stung. The only time they may is if they have just had an encounter with someone who looked as if they were practising martial arts, throwing their arms around like they are in a Jackie Chan movie. They (the bees and the wasps that is) are misunderstood in the same way that pike are. You know the stories: the local pool contains a monster fish that in the last year has devoured fourteen babies, sixteen Jack Russell Terriers (this seems to be the preferred diet of pike, have you noticed) and twenty mallard chicks. Stay away from nests and hives, don’t panic and you will be fine with our winged friends. As for the pike, lock up your Jack Russell.
Video number 36 on list
(Originally published August 2010)