The gravel pit that I am currently fishing is not an easy nut to crack. In fact that is the challenge that this sort of venue poses, and whilst that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, personally I relish the thought of pitting my wits against the best that nature can produce. My preparation time is more than just the night before, I find that I am currently thinking about the next session even as I drove home after an overnighter!
Like the football coach who is constantly trying to out manoeuvre his opponents, I am always working through my tactics and how I might improve. One thing is for sure, the gravel pit will show no sympathies at all, and any opponent that fails to rise to the occasion will be dealt with in a heartless manner. Translated into real money that means lots of blanks!
And I know all about those, having endured enough over the last couple of seasons on the water. However, so far this spring I have yet to have a fish-less session. And I’m not looking for a piece of wood to touch as I say that, as superstition has no role to play in my life, never mind my angling. Every session – whether good or bad – has to analysed in a logical and objective manner. And even though I am currently enjoying a good spell, I am definitely not triumphalistic about it all.
But it is nice to be catching and I will make no apologies for that. This week’s session was a little slow getting off the mark though. Although the conditions looked very good, with a nice SW wind blowing across the venue, it was not until the morning after the first night (I was on a two-night session) that I had a fish. It was a typical bream bite – just a few slight movements on the swinger and I’m into a fish.
A couple of hours later, with daylight proper, I had a bite that I definitely knew wasn’t a bream. With the swinger shooting right up to the top and line being stripped from the reel, I wondered if I had connected with my first carp from the pit. Even as I played the fish I was unsure what it was, but as it came to the net I saw that I had caught a big tench. At 7-5-0 it is the biggest from the gravel pit this spring.
Actually the tench I have been catching have been averaging at more than 6 lb, which is excellent. I have even been tempted to fish the gravel pit for a specific tench campaign, but the problem is that I have already got plans once my breaming comes to an end. I don’t know about you, but I need to live to be a thousand years old if I am to accomplish everything that I would like to do in angling. But I do find it more fulfilling when I focus on one species at a time (or sometimes two when taking into account conditions) rather than spreading myself too thin.
Following the capture of the tench, the rest of the day was very quiet. I did some bird watching from the comfort of my chair, and watched a pair of shelduck for ages as they fed along the far bank shallows. In addition, I observed a pair of oystercatchers mating and later saw a female on a nest on an island on the pit. That was certainly a nice sight and I will be following up on that on future visits.
As the day drew to an end I once more baited up and cast out. The third and final fish came at 10.40 p.m. with nothing more than a couple of bleeps to alert me. If it weren’t for the fact that by then the water was as flat as a sheet of glass, I would have put the noises down to wind movement. But after five minutes I decided to lift the rod and found myself reeling in a bream in the 9-lb bracket.
While crouching by the pod I noticed a smooth newt on the ground. We have a breeding colony in my back garden at home and when you go out in the night with a torch you can usually pick up half a dozen or so in the beam. I must have frightened the poor creature though as it literally froze to the spot and didn’t move for ages. It must have come round though as in the morning it had gone.
No more fish followed, and the rest of the night was quite chilly. There was even a very autumnal mist that descended all over the water giving it an almost eerie feel. However, I’m not spooked at all and so that didn’t bother me. I’m more concerned about where I park my car, and as it was safe in the local village I have no concerns on that score. So with no more fish and nothing to trouble me, I dozed off and slept like a baby for the rest of the night.
(Originally published May 2006)