NAA Stillwater, Warwicks, May Bank Holiday Weekend.
Sunday 3rd May 2015
I don’t often fish during the closed season but there are times when I fancy going back to basics with just a pot of maggots a float rod and a lethargic chill by a lake, just as I used to when I was a teenager. These days I’m lucky enough to be doing that with a rather nice split cane rod and since said rod has proven to be not ideal for trotting I needed to find out what it was good at. With Steve Walker’s wise words in my head (“you’ll find a purpose for the rod and thoroughly enjoy it”) off I went to a club lake in search of whatever was there. On arrival what wasn’t there was my landing net…bugger. I thought that I’d be catching silvers mostly so I was tempted to carry on but the drop to the water from most of the swims meant that I wouldn’t be able to man handle anything bigger without falling in so I trudged back to the car ready to call it a day. On hearing my tale of woe a kindly couple took pity on me and lent me a net, they could share his 40 inch trawl net for the tiddlers she was fishing for, I was back in business.
And so I plumbed the swim, set up a waggler just over depth, attached a couple of red maggots and sat back in the sunshine waiting for the float to dip. I sat back for quite a long time actually, long enough for the sun to be replaced by menacing rain clouds. During this prolonged period of blanking my finely honed watercraft skills came into play and I noticed that many carp were swimming about on the surface, I could see them. This didn’t explain why nothing was interested in my maggots, there are perch and tench in this lake, but it did mean that my decision not to bring any bread might’ve been a poor one.
More of a concern, however, was the darkening sky. There were a few clouds which I just knew were relishing the thought of emptying their contents on a brollyless angler so I decided to bail out, I returned the net and loaded up the car. As I was leaving another angler was arriving, we exchanged pleasantries and I pointed to the sky. He rather sarcastically suggested that fish didn’t mind the rain as he headed off to his chosen swim.
The day hadn’t been a great success and the news on the car radio that the West Indies were well on their way to reaching their target after a monumental England batting collapse didn’t help. Then the heavens opened with a vengeance and the thought that sarcastic car park man was probably getting very wet brought a big smile to my face.
Monday 4th May 2015
A better day all round, same lake, different swim but to be honest selection wasn’t that important. The carp were on the surface in abundance just cruising about soaking up the sunshine. Tactics would be my usual approach, a size 6 hook tied directly to the line and a large lump of flake moulded around the shank, it’s surprising how much distance you can cast with this set up. A few pieces of crust thrown in were eagerly snaffled before the ducks got to it so it was obvious to me that I’d be “baggin’ up” and Mr Merlin was in for a hard time. It wasn’t quite so obvious to the carp though, bites weren’t a problem, in fact on a couple of occasions I had them fighting over the bait but without fail they would nip off the flake and leave the bit with the hook in it, this would then sink and be ignored. I love fishing this way, sometimes you’d see a fish home in on your bread from a good way off, other times there’d be none about but suddenly a shadow would appear next to your bait from the depths. I find it so addictive and can while away hours doing this….which is what happened. The clouds had gathered again and the fish had gone but I was still plugging away with bread on the surface.
When the penny finally dropped I decided that ledgered maggots was a sure fire way to catch something, I was getting a bit desperate so anything would do. I had no bobbins with me so was rummaging around in the creel looking for something that would do the job when I came across my old Polaris float. I hadn’t used it for years but this was the perfect solution, I could ledger and watch a float at the same time. A size 14 hook replaced the 6 and several maggots were impaled, out went the rather clumsy set up in the full expectation of success. Well success came eventually but not after I’d spent too long wondering why no small fish had taken the bait. When the bite did occur it was quite strange, the float didn’t go under as such it just sort of vanished and Mr Mitchell started turning backwards at an alarming rate.
Lifting into the fish and observing a semi circle of bamboo in my hands was a bit disconcerting at first, I could just imagine the pound notes falling off the value as I advertised a three piece (formerly two piece) Merlin on e-bay. Confidence grew as the rod proved up to it, you just have to get used to the whole butt section doing the work including the handle which I could feel was flexing. Once I was comfortable with that I relaxed and let the rod soak up everything thrown at it, which it did with aplomb.
The culprit was a well proportioned common carp possibly getting on for double figures. I didn’t weigh it because the struggle had been longer than it might have been had I simply winched it in using a carbon rod. The fish was very tired but on the upside the small hook was easily removed without causing mouth damage and after a short rest in the landing net it swam off proud to have been conquered by this remarkable rod building material.