From The Privvy – Chapter Eleven

The Instant Superstar's Guide To Success

1. Find Your Water

Do not waste any time fishing waters that you know are difficult. Find a water that is known to produce twenties with regularity plus the odd thirty and spend some time watching the water. Do not waste time trying to find the fish, climb a tree and watch the anglers who are successful on the water. If they are too far away for you to see properly, use binoculars.

2. Choose Your Swim

Learn the habits of the successful anglers intimately, don't just watch where they cast but also log the times that they cast and re-bait. If possible, try and work out the amount of feed they are using at every stage of their fishing and try to estimate the size of their baits. Before starting to fish have a casual walk through their swims and make a mental note of the following:

Are they using thick or thin line?

Is their line fished tight or slack?

Are they using back leads?

Have they dropped any bait in the swim?

And finally, if a bucket of particles is outside their bivvy accidentally walk into it and knock it over to see what's in it. Always help the angler pick the particles up, after you have left his swim smell your hands in case the particles were flavoured.

3. Starting To Fish

Arrive at the water one hour before the angler in your chosen swim is due to leave, have a walk round the lake and pretend you are looking for fish, if any other anglers will talk to you ask what's been caught and make mental notes for future reference. When you see the angler in your chosen swim starting to pack his gear away return to the car park and collect your tackle. Take it as quickly as you can to the nearest vacant swim to the one you want, as the angler walks past ask him how he has done, even if you already know how he's fared he may still impart some useful information on you. As soon as he is out of sight, grab all your tackle and get into his now vacant swim as quickly as you can. Do not allow yourself to be side-tracked. If necessary, just pick up half your tackle and run to the swim! Never become impatient and start to fish somewhere else because the swim is longer being vacated than you expected, remember that you cannot tell the difference between bream, pike swirling, wind furrows and carp when you look at the water, so you won't be able to find the fish on your own.

Having secured the swim, set up your landing net and scrape it around the margins. If you get any bait try and work out what it is and then put it somewhere to dry out. If you already know what bait the angler was using scrape it out anyway. You will gain confidence if you fish with it. Set up your rods and put them on the buzzer bars; make sure that everything is level and the rods are set at whatever level is fashionable. Set up a marker rod and lean it against a tree, you don't need it, but it looks good! If you are not using particles set up a spod rod anyway and lean it against the same tree; not only will it look good, but it will also throw people who could work out what you are doing!

Bait your rods either with your own bait or bait that you have found in the swim and cast exactly to the spots that the previous angler fished. Don't worry about what's on the bottom; you don't know anything about it anyway. Never be tempted to cast anywhere else. If you do you will not land in the previous anglers feed, this is a very important point indeed. Also don't be tempted to cast to bubbles, the biggest bubbles are made by the biggest fish, aren't they? You could hook a diver if you're not careful! Once all your rods are cast adjust all your indicators so they are in a line and pull all your lines to the same tension, so that each tip is offset to the same degree. Never fish with rods or reels that don't match exactly and always make sure that each reel has identical line on it. We don't want to spoil a perfect set up with an unsightly colour clash of the line do we?

You can now set up your bivvy and have a lie down on your bed chair. Before long you will start to worry about your rigs. You will have made every effort with the binoculars and by walking past at the right time to ascertain exactly how the swims previous occupant has set his rig up, but you will still worry unless, of course, you have managed to get hold of one of his rigs.

The easiest way to get hold of another anglers rig is to cast over his line, as you reel it in shout apologies across the lake and tell him to open his bail arm. When you get his line cut the whole rig off and shout across to him that you will bring it back. When you get to his swim tell him you dropped it and couldn't find it, then offer to replace it and apologise profusely. When you get back to your swim you can study it properly.

4. Achieving A Reputation

Remember at all times to copy the baiting pattern of the swims previous occupant, never vary it, he knew what he was doing and you don't. Don't worry if you have to use your own bait, as long as it is adequate the fish will eat it. Remember, you only chose this water because it is easy. If you can't make a bait that fish will eat, leave a bucket of particles by your bivvy door and fish with tutti-fruttis; don't let other anglers see you using ready mades. The other anglers on the water will not at this stage come round and speak to you, but they will be well aware that you are present, so don't do anything that could jeopardise your attempt at stardom.

As it gets dark only re-bait and re-cast if the previous occupant did. When it is completely dark, take the line on one rod and pull it through the buzzer, thus simulating a take. Wait a few minutes and listen very carefully to make sure no-one is coming and then splash the water a few times with your hands. Listen very carefully again and if you're sure no one is coming, slap your unhooking mat a few times. Wait two more minutes and then shine your torch close to the ground for a few seconds and finally fire the flash on your camera a couple of times. Wait a few minutes longer and splash the water again with your hands while holding your weighsling, hang the weighsling in a tree to dry and go to bed.

Should you actually catch a fish, put it in a sack and then simulate photographing and returning it. In the morning go and ask the angler fishing nearest to you if he can take a few photographs for you. Tell him that you caught a fish early on in the night and photographed it yourself but this one came just before it got light so you didn't mind putting it in a sack for an hour or two. Always give the other angler two cameras to take your pictures, one a simple point and snap the other as compli
cated as you can find. Don't bother putting any film in the complicated camera as the pictures will probably be crap anyway.

In all probability, the fish will be quite small so refer to it as a 'pretty little scamp', but whatever the size don't reveal any emotion. Treat it with total nonchalance and never ever smile for the pictures. If any other angler on the water hooks a fish don't ever look at them playing or landing it, you can then tell your friends that you didn't see any fish caught other than the ones you have told them that you caught. Always exaggerate the number and size of the fish you catch, but keep it within the realms of possibility. Before long the other anglers on the water will believe that you are catching quite a few fish and will visit you while you are fishing. Remember that they are probably quite nice people and took up fishing in the first place to avoid people like yourself, so it is imperative that you don't reveal your true nature. During the course of your conversations always point to fish that aren't there and tell them that you saw fish rolling near their swim at first light. Never take your eyes from the water for more than a few seconds while they are talking to you and, if necessary, reel in a rod making a show of keeping your rig concealed and re-cast it to another spot saying something to the effect that you have seen a good fish feeding there at that time on previous days and had put a bit of bait out there earlier. As soon as they leave the swim put it back where it is meant to be.

Should you get a take after re-casting the rod while the angler is still in your swim do not show any surprise. Remember, nobody is always wrong and you only cast if for effect, you didn't really think there was a fish down there, did you? If you make a mess of playing it, kid on that you are very tired and say things like "These little ones fly about all over the place, don't they?" Or words to that effect.

While talking to other anglers on the water some topics of conversation will arise that could cause you some embarrassment, so rehearse all your answers in advance. Here are some examples:

Questions

Where did you fish before?

Where else do you fish?

What's your biggest fish?

To all these, you must invent an answer which could be something like, "I've fished several waters over the years, but my biggest fish have come from a couple of syndicate waters that have publicity bans on them. One angler was thrown out last season just for showing his photographs to a non-member so I don't want to say too much".

If someone says something like, "So and so fished here a couple of seasons ago. It didn't matter where he fished, he always caught something, usually one of the big ones", a good response would be, "Oh yes. That's when he was using extracted pheromone in his bait. I had some, but never used it, there were just too many fish deaths in the waters where it was tried. You can't get it now, nor will anyone ever talk about it."

Have you got the idea? If ever the conversation wanders towards well know anglers, always talk in terms that suggest you know them well without committing yourself. Never accept that someone has done well on the water you are fishing by sound angling methods. Always dream up reasons for their success that imply rule bending or illegal practices such as using baits that have been banned, fishing with several rods in the bushes, etc. Finally, if you wish to practice what you do best, always make sure the bivvy door is closed, but remember it strains your ears not your eyes. You're always listening to see if someone is coming!

Most anglers would not take any of the above very seriously, but if you find any part of it offensive you should ask yourself why? If you feel that it contains ideas that might help you raise your esteem on the water you fish, but feel that your eye is not perceptive or your memory not good enough, then spend some time making an amateur video of the lake. You will not only have a visual record of other anglers set ups, but also an oral record that you can listen to over and over again until you are quite clear on all the implications of what has been said. If you feel that all of it is a good idea, then I would suggest that a frontal lobotomy might help to make you a nicer person.