Snow, sleet, overnight frosts, bitterly cold northerly winds and water temperatures looking good only for grayling fishing. That’s what confronted me as I looked ahead to the Easter week. And what was particularly frustrating is that I pretty much had a clear run and had originally intended to get plenty of fishing in. But with each day seeming worse than the previous one, I kept putting off when I would venture out, in the hope that maybe the next day would see a miraculous change in the weather.
However, none came and so eventually I went anyway! I know that the question could be asked as to why I didn’t switch species and venue, but having managed to catch on two sessions so far since the close of the river season, I was happy enough to head for the gravel pit and target bream and tench. With the day being dry, the first thing I did was to cast out the marker float and catapult a few balls of groundbait to two spots out into the main body of water.
One of the things that you often read in regards to bream fishing and baiting up is to ‘fill it in’. And whilst I can fully appreciate the sentiments behind that statement, it does have to be qualified. For example, what numbers of fish are to be expected, are there going to be lots of smaller fish that will be devouring the bait and also what is the water temperature like? Just to consider the latter, as that was applicable to me on this session, it’s no use putting out a sack of bait if the water is 5C! Hence I was very sparing in what I catapulted out.
My bait mix is very simple – brown crumb, dead maggots and sweetcorn. I mix the dry powder at the water’s edge, form small tangerine sized balls, leave them to ‘harden’ for a minute or two and then fire them out to the selected areas. It’s all as straightforward as that. The only variation will be the amount that I send out, which for this session was minimal. I was looking to hold any passing fish without overfeeding them. You do find yourself thinking deeply as to what is happening beneath the surface in terms of the behaviour of the fish.
But sometimes no matter how deep you think, there’s not much that you can do. And this was one of those times. I did a two-night session and fished with confidence but ultimately the fish weren’t having it, and that’s that! In several years of being on the pit, it was also the first Friday night ever where I have had the venue to myself. I fish alone many midweek nights but come Friday there are always at least three or so carpers out. But the atrocious conditions kept even the hardened carp anglers away.
I had several people – fishermen and non-anglers alike – pass comments as they walked past and realised that I was pitched up for a decent session. I was well prepared though for all that mother nature could throw at me, as I had come equipped with bivvy as opposed to my usual shelter. My bivvy was recently repaired by the manufacturers due to a leak, and at least I can say that the repair worked as the heavens opened big time on the first night of the session. Not only that but the winds were extremely powerful and I’m happy to say that the bivvy held up well. As a Trakker Armo though, it ought to perform well at the price!
The first night I was overrun with the usual infestation of rats. I had come prepared at least to take a few out though as my wife had bought me a trap! If I could just snap a couple, the others would learn very quickly to steer clear of me – well that was my plan and when you’re desperate you’ll come up with anything. I set the trap and even before it was dark, the rats were out. They actually impressed me though with their intelligence or perhaps cautiousness. Even though they mopped up every single crumb of groundbait that had fallen, the food on the plate of the trap remained untouched.
I watched them as they moved around it, eyeing it up, but knowing that something wasn’t right. They must have a fine tuned instinct because they certainly weren’t basing their judgement on experience. And they’re certainly happy to come right into my shelter and even on my bedchair! They reminded me of wary fish that hoover up all the loose feed and then leave the hookbait exposed and alone. But at least the fish has seen it all before and its action is because of what it has encountered before. No wonder we are facing a rat crisis in our country with creatures that not only breed prolifically but are also highly intelligent. The only positive from the session is that the second night was totally rat free. I was puzzled as to why but I was relieved all the same.
So after two sessions where I beat the conditions, finally the weather catches up with me. But in the typical positive mindset that I apply to my angling, even as I packed away on the morning I was still expecting the swinger to come alive with an injury time fish! And when that didn’t happen I was planning my next week’s sessions even as I walked back to the car. And with the weather picking up then I’m really hopeful for the next seven days. So as they say, watch this space!
(Originally posted April 2008)