Silver Linings – Rick Birch goes in search of big bream

Pulling away from the tax office car park I watched its greying edifice fade into the background of tatty shops in the rear view mirror. Headspace was required, so I cranked up noise on the stereo and The Falls ‘Sons of Temperance’ blasted out.

Home was due West, so I headed East – it was one of those days. Wrestling with the financial implications of the mornings meeting with Eddie ‘bleedin fascist’ Hitler, I traveled along the A34, suddenly feeling the need for fresh air to let the whiteness drain from my knuckles… Fanshawe Lane was the next available turn. I indicated and coasted down to the car park and duck ranch.

The warmth of the mid-August sunshine greeted me as I stepped out of the car. It was carried on a gentle breeze that ruffled the surface of the mere in patches between the vociferous waterfowl. The seemingly ever present Granelli’s ice cream van, immaculately turned out as always, tempted me over. Traditional vanilla cornet in hand I peered through the railings into the crystal clear water that held a light green algal bloom in suspension. The suns light dappled the granular bed, scarred with the actions of feeding birds. The glistening reflections prompting me to don shades. I then stared outward to the deeper green hues of its tree lined vista.

Redesmere’s charms were already getting to work in covert SAS style to calm my mood, stun-grenading my inner turmoil, smothering it in blankets, wrapping it securely in shrink wrap and frog marching it to the nearby waste bin! Whilst all this action was taking place, I was obliviously scanning the shady canopy of beech, birch and alder, when I noticed camouflaged bivvy canvas of all kinds, offering temporary shelter to contless anglers. First one caught my eye, then another and then a third. It was like a refugee camp I mused, though not from famine or disaster but for the purpose of something else entirely…

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The Stoke Anglers website was a mine of information, extensive and up to date….a membership application was duly dispatched to an address in Wilmslow with an accompanying cheque for the price of a weekly shop.

The desktop received a new folder ‘Redesmere Bream Campaign – August 2006’ and file after file of bream related articles were pasted in from any available source; forums were joined and moderators got used to moving my ‘Bream nuisance’ threads out of Carp sections! Tackle shop owners yawned or discreetly tried to attract the attention of others to intervene so they could escape my barrage of questions, or simply announced they were “just going to run some casters off in the back” every time I appeared!

However, the results were collated, dissected, asset stripped and edited down to give a shiny core of disseminated knowledge together with pictures of A1’ Pits finest inhabitants… but in the hands of Phil Smith and the like……

A right hand click and then two left, had placed a panoramic shot of the mere, resplendent, as my new screen saver – a constant reminder while I eagerly waited for an envelope with name and address penned in my own hand to drop onto the raffia mat.

Standing in the hallway I waved my Green Book excitedly in my right hand, the roughly torn open envelope still in the left. My beloved shared my enthusiasm by rolling her eyes and muttering something about men never growing up, and ambled into the kitchen, “and that’s another thing” she said poking her head back round the doorway “Get this lot moved, it’s been here nearly two weeks.”

A cobbled together collection of old, new, borrowed and ‘glued’ ( well none of its blue! ) tackle had taken up residence on the table, cork and cloth taking up the tainted smell of an unventilated health food shop; maple peas, hemp, sweet-corn, vitalin, fishmeal, betaine, molasses and condensed milk all attacking the olfactory lobes in unison!

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The ‘Pines’ had been mentioned a number of times on the North West Carp forum, and that’s where I settled in. I washed the remnants of sticky fishmeal ground bait off my hands, the majority of which was now crumbling and dispersing a comfortable catapult lob away, in the inky water, releasing maples and corn samples for the dark backed slabs to find, and with baits cast I settled down with a coffee and drank in the peace and tranquility; the far bank trees lost their definition, and the red tinge on the clouds was replaced by steel grey as the bird noise faded to coincide with the last rays of sunlight…

Rumbling high above, a procession of planes carried excited or nervous holiday makers to hotter climes. Poor fools I thought…why would anybody want to be anywhere else? Drawing my focus closer another aerial display was in full swing – the swallows had given way to bats who were well into a re-enactment of the ‘Bat’- tle of Britain, ( groan! ) swirling and turning around each other like dogfighters – they must have one hell of an air traffic controller!

The wind freshened and heavier clouds gathered and rolled in from the west and the mood of the night took on a different complexion, I drew in the draw string of my hood as the first of many raindrops fell and I quickly relocated my belongings under the cover of the brolly.

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At 11.32 pm, forty four and a half yards due east and eight feet nearer the earths core than my backside a small pocket of water which carried the scent of molasses was displaced. Two canary yellow, round edged pieces of plastic that had been attempting to rise above a small counter weight for over two hours, rotated on axis in a small eddy then disappeared from view…four inches from the black hole that had sucked in the fake corn, a Nisa in-line feeder flicked out of its fishmeal burial mound as the point of the size 10 Korda S3 took hold.

The indicator failed to draw my attention as it lifted from the peaty rain soaked ground – the torrential down pour drowning out the buzzer call – it was only when the reel handle started to rotate anti-clockwise that I knew it was time to focus my attention…lifting the rod was greeted by a steady pull down of the tip, followed by a series of ponderous, heavy nods. I knew instantly that this was the fish I was looking for…

Double figure Redesmere reward – I Never thought I’d thank the taxman for anything..!!

A double figure Bream seemed to be a realistic target to focus on as a return to serious angling after some time out of the loop. Only ten years back this would have been shooting for the stars, a 10lb’er was a notable specimen and the record fish list was topped by one of 14lb.

That’s all changed and literally dozens of venues across the country now have a burgeoning population of Bream, stacking on weight as they hoover up the residual leftovers of spodded beds of high protein pellet and HNV seed mixes for the carp.

A couple of hours on the internet threw up a handful of possible venues within a 30 mile radius but it was Redesmere on the SOTangling website that caught my eye. There was a comprehensive description and a couple of appealing landscape photographs, primarily a carp water but also beautiful venue with a big fish heritage.

Until Next Time,

Tight lines…

Rick Birch