Very often, people in the public eye have past quotes that they have made brought back to haunt them. One of the best and most prolific (will they ever learn?) examples is when the chairman of a football club is being interviewed and he declares his faith and total trust in the manager and gives him the vote of confidence. Two weeks later he has sacked him. Well, in my own small way I felt like my words were haunting me this week.
After a hard start to the gravel pit campaign, coinciding with the weather turning, a couple of weeks ago my fortunes also took a sharp upward turn. No more struggling for one fish; I was now basking in the glory of multiple catches (well, three a session, but this isn’t an easy water). So confident was I that the struggles had been left behind that I gave that week’s article the declaratory title of ‘It looks like the corner has been turned at last!’ Well, two weeks later and the corner has resurfaced!
The first session of the week saw me confronted with a very unusual sight – my preferred peg was taken. In several years of fishing the pit, this is only the second time this has happened to me. When I first decided to fish the venue I had no knowledge of what to expect, but I did notice that the carp anglers tended to congregate around certain sections. So not wanting to compete with other anglers I started off by fishing a swim that was well off the regulars’ well-beaten path.
And as I began to catch good bream and tench from there, I stuck with it as my swim of first choice. It means that I’m not part of the scramble for places to fish and I know pretty much that I can get on there. And if a carp angler does fish it, it’s only to use as a point from which to send his bait (via boat) to features 100 metres away. But no matter how confident you are about a swim being free, you still need a plan b and there has been a spot I have had my eye on for several weeks now. So when I saw a bivvie pitched up where I normally would be, all I did was move to the alternative swim.
I had plenty of time before dusk was due to set in so I cast a marker float numerous times through the swim. With a standard depth of eight feet wherever I cast, I was very encouraged to find that a bar ran a section of the swim at a height of two feet. This was a significant enough feature and positioning the marker float to the left of the bar I proceeded to catapult balls of brown crumb, dead maggots and sweetcorn along its length. I wasn’t that fussed about the bait actually being on top of the bar and actually intended to put some either side of it as well. Knowing that the feature would be a fish-attracting one, anywhere on or alongside it would be fine.
One thing I also did was to sketch out a plan of the swim in my diary, noting depth, position of bar, distance, above-water features and so on. Many anglers think they can rely on memory but personally I always go for the solid and reliable method of recording everything. That way, if I return to the swim, even some years later, I can read the facts as I recorded them and not have to depend on data stored in the hazy mist of time.
There are sketches and notes that I still refer to from several years back, although a word of warning is necessary as some features may change with time. Whilst a bar on a gravel pit will be there year after year without any movement whatsoever, rivers particularly are prone to re-inventing themselves with floods being the culprit. After last summer’s devastating floods, whole sections of rivers that I fish took on a new identity.
But back to the fishing. In spite of total confidence I blanked. The weather was excellent, I was on the only feature in the swim and there’s nothing wrong with my bait and tactics. But I had a totally fish-less session. But with the luxury of two more trips during the week to come I wasn’t bothered about this little blip on the graph. Unfortunately though, this blip became a smudge and then a massive smear as both sessions recorded blanks.
Even now I can’t believe it. The conditions are so good you would expect the tench and bream to be fighting over who gets caught. But the opposite is true as there is a total lack of interest from their side. I’ve been there at the side of the pit as darkness has been drawing in, just waiting for the bite alarms to go off. My confidence has been so high it hasn’t been a case of ‘if’ but rather ‘when’. Yet the only sound I have been hearing has been the occasional call of an oystercatcher in night flight and the constant singing of a reed warbler in bank side vegetation right next to where I was.
But isn’t that the beauty of fishing? I’ve said it many times before, and no doubt will continue to do so in the future, that it’s sense of the unexpected that gives angling the magic edge. Although we take on board conditions, weather, temperature and so on (and rightly so) there is always that certain percentage of the equation that you simply cannot legislate for. And it’s that unknown quantity that keeps us going through the hard times. It’s also the same thing that baffles us at other times!
Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way really. Although I will be as organised as possible, planning sessions down to the smallest details and generally thinking everything through with a logical approach, the truth is that I do not have a clue what the rest of the year holds for my angling! I might be a national record holder by the end of the summer or I may be in the Guinness Book of Records for the most blanks ever! Who knows!
Check out this week’s video clip by clicking here.
(Originally published may 2008)