Last week was a busy one. With Christmas fast approaching and the weather warming up I got up before daybreak three days running in order to get rods finished and packed ready to ship out and leave me with Thursday and Friday to fish. All went to plan until a couple of customers decided they wanted to collect their rods on Thursday. No problem that still left Friday, which went out of the window when a call to Harrison's confirmed I'd be getting a batch of blanks through on that day. The way the rain fell on Friday I didn't complain though. I went and bought some maggots so I could fish Saturday and Sunday. Plan F was hatched when I discovered my local tackle dealer wasn't opening on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day, meaning I might run out of bait before Thursday. So, on Saturday I went and got some more maggots.
By now I was on plan Z, or thereabouts. Fish Sunday, potter Monday, fish Christmas Day and maybe Boxing Day. Buy more bait on Thursday. Christmas Day could well be a pike session. But where to fish on Sunday? After three blanks on the roach water my rule says go do something else. There was a niggle though. Having had a bit and bumped a fish off my last session hadn't felt like a blank. I waited to see what the morning brought in the way of weather.
The torrential rain was going to make the drains a washout, and the rivers would be well up being fit only for barbel. With the sun breaking out after breakfast and a hooligan blowing from the south west I through caution to the wind and readied the roach gear. Having had no need for the keepnet on my previous sessions I was tempted to leave it behind. It weighs little and straps to the rucksack neatly, so that got chucked in the car any way.
Arriving at the car park an old chap was heading off. He hadn't bothered getting his gear out as it was so wild, and there was nobody else fishing. It was wild too. For a small water there were white caps were breaking on the waves! I had two choices. Fish where I had the bite last time and brave the gale blowing into my bank. I'd be warmed by the sun but chilled by the wind. Alternatively I could get the wind behind me and put up with some shade as the sun swung westward. I took the coward's approach and tucked myself in to the right of a bush at the upwind end of the lake with the wind blowing across my left shoulder. My reasoning being that if I was comfortable I'd fish better. Feeling happy, if not brimming with confidence, I settled into the swim and got myself cosy.
As usual a worm was cast out to the right close in, but the two maggot rods were cast to different lines. The right hand rod went out as far as the orange braid marker on the mono left from my previous two sessions. The left hand rod was hurled as far as I could chuck it. Then I sat back for a honey filled barm and a cup of flask tea. Three refills of the feeders later and the middle bobbin was dancing. This time when I picked the rod up I felt a distinct thump and the weight of a fish. This was no flirter and I wasn't going top let it fall off.
Carefully playing it in I dropped the right hand rod tip off the front rest to sink the line. With the fish close in I couldn't work out where it was until it swirled under the rushes in the right margin. It had kited that way and crossed the line on the worm rod which it picked up as I played it over the landing net. This was obviously going to require the scales. Swiftly unhooked and resting in the landing net I untangled the cat's cradle of lines before wetting the sling, zeroing the scales and smiling as I lifted the fish off the ground. I was glad I'd brought the keepnet!
When it comes to roach I'm easily pleased. Pound plus fish make me happy. The fish wasn't a monster but I felt I'd earned it, and now I knew for sure there were roach worth catching in the place. Although I have caught roach of similar size before most have been accidental captures. Catching a species by design is always more satisfying, even though I don't think there's any such thing as a nuisance fish. Well, maybe unwanted carp...
With everything sorted out and ship shape again I dropped the distance rod to the same distance as the rod that had produced the fish. This proved to be a good move as ten minutes later I was playing another fish on that rod. This one didn't kite but made a few determined runs from the net. As determined as a roach can get that is. Once netted it was plainly somewhat larger than the first fish.
Larger is a relative term when it comes to weights of fish. Five ounces isn't much bigger on a ten pound pike, but it's over 25% heavier on a pound roach! Although not a personal best it was my biggest roach caught by design. Two targets achieved in ten minutes - a first 'decent' roach off the water and biggest intentionally caught fish. These small milestones are what keep me fishing. I well realise that at 'that place in Scotland' these two fish would get returned unweighed, unphotographed and possibly unloved. The thing is that there you know there's a chance of a three pounder. Where I'm fishing I doubt that's likely, but the ceiling weight is unknown. It's nice to have a little bit of mystery to fishing. All too rare these days.
Over an hour went by with no more activity. The shoal had obviously moved on. I swapped the left hand maggot feeder for a cage feeder, filling it with hemp and pellets I found in the freezer, and recast it to range. Then the middle bobbin jiggled. For no accountable reason I failed to connect, but the maggot had gone. I thought about changing the hook but didn't. I swapped the cage feeder back to a blockend and dropped it short again.
Ten minutes passed before teh middle bobbin jiggled again and this time I felt the thump of another decent roach. Same rig, same hook. Makes no sense.
The wind seemed to ease. A buzzard heading west got chased off by two crows. A lonely long tailed tit flitted about in the bush that was giving me shelter. I kept on refilling the feeders every ten or fifteen minutes.
Shortly after three the middle bobbin was moving again. Again a fish was hooked, netted, weighed and slipped in the keepnet. This proved to be the only bite of the day that wasn't swiftly followed by another. The next bite, 35 minutes later was the first of another pair.
Despite the wind the day remained warm as the sun set. I could have stopped on a while after four thirty as there was still some light in the sky. It had been a satisfying enough few hours, so I called it a day, disturbing a flock of roosting wood pigeons as I made my way back to the car under a clump of trees.
What had accounted for the upturn in my success after the run of blanks? I'd fished the swim before so discounted that. The week's rain had put a slight tinge of colour in the water which must also have warmed up since last Sunday when the ice was still melting. Maybe. Then again I had been half filling the feeders with maggots and topping them up with the hemp and pellet mix. That could have been something to do with it. Fact is, I'll never know. Such speculation doesn't get us anywhere in the long run.
Next time out the worm rod will have to fish something else because I've no worms left. I might rig up another feeder and fish it off the main baited area, or I might try something left field like a 10mm boilie. Being able to fish three rods gives scope for such experiments and adds to the interest. Having now caught a few roach I doubt I'll be getting the pike rods out this side of New Year.