An Unexpected Surprise

P1040890One look out of the window this morning made me question my sanity.  The car was covered in ice and the wind was howling.  At best the temperature today would feel like -2 with the hourly average feeling more like -5.  Everything took twice as long to prepare as my heart wasn’t really in it.  I had planned to get to the river for first light but an extra cup of tea over breakfast followed by a couple more checks of the river level and weather forecast meant I didn’t actually cast a line until 9:40am.  I even had a shower which is something I never normally do before going fishing.

The mile and a half walk upstream from the car meant I arrived at the marmite swim suitably warm under my 5 layers of clothing.  Somehow though I managed to mis-calculate the direction of the wind.  I’d thought I would have the wind over my back in the swim that I had chosen but instead it was straight in my face.  It was going to make for an unpleasant day.

The plan was to fish for Perch so I prepared my upstream rod with chopped worm in the feeder and a nice dendra on on the hook.  A lot of people prefer lobs because of their size and they don’t tend to get pestered by nuisance fish.  I can understand that in Autumn but at this time of year I can’t remember being pestered by nuisance fish on the dendra.  The downstream rod was setup with liquidised prawn in the feeder and king prawn tail on the hook.  The jury is out for me on prawns as a bait in the river.  I only tend to fish them when the river is up and coloured but even so I haven’t had much success on them other than for Chub.  Other anglers swear by them.

After what must have been all of five minutes I had a small knock on the worm.  Perch are

An unexpected surprise.
An unexpected surprise.

notoriously shy biters at this time of year so I waited for the bite to develop.  After a while it was obvious that the bite wasn’t going to develop so I checked the bait and put some more chopped worm in the feeder and cast to the same spot.  Within another 5 minutes there were some obvious knocks again on the quiver.  The bite was very gentle and I waited for a few seconds for it to develop expecting a big stripey to be on the end when I struck.  A few seconds later the tip hesitantly pulled round and I struck into what I first thought was a good Chub.  The fish took line as it headed towards the main flow.  After a moment or two I realised that it was a good fish as it doggedly refused to come up to the surface although I have to say I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t a Perch.  I started to think it was a Barbel as this section of river holds quite a few.

As I reached for the net I saw the bronze body of a half decent Common Carp come to the surface.  I was quite excited at this as I have often wondered why I don’t catch more Carp out of the river as there is a good head of them in places.  In fact it is the first carp I have had out of that particular river and came completely out of the blue.

Safely in the net I lifted her onto the unhooking mat and couldn’t believe how solid the fish was. It was very wide across the back and not an inch of fat on her.  I didn’t bother weighing her and estimated the weight at around 12lb.  Not a big carp by national standards but a lovely fish for the river and I couldn’t help but admire her for a moment.

After slipping her back I couldn’t help but wonder whether it had scared every fish off in the vicinity after it had been crashing around the swim.  The spot I was fishing was named the marmite swim by a good friend of mine for a reason.  It’s a long walk to get there and there is very little room to manoeuvre as space is limited.  There’s just enough room to fish two ten foot puddle chuckers because of the overhanging trees and it is surrounded by rubbish that has been brought down by the floods.  Oh and did i say there is a high bank to contend with that drops down into deep water?  It’s also only fishable in the winter due to the overgrown banks in the summer.  So you see it’s called the marmite swim because you either love it or you hate it.  It does hold some good fish though.

Eventually after a couple of hours or so I had a bite on the prawn.  It was a strange sort of bite.  The tip pulled round and then dropped back before pulling round again.  I struck expecting to feel solid resistance only to feel nothing.  The prawn had gone and so had the fish.  Bemused by how I could miss such a bite I decided to cast into the same spot.  Stranger was to come a bit later.  I turned round to grab my tub of worms and when I looked back, the same rod was bent over with the tip nodding away.  Thinking the fish had hooked itself I struck and again nothing but thin air and a slack line.  How I wish I could film what was going on under water when things like that happen.  Winter days are short so you have to make every opportunity count.  I had just missed the chance to put another two good fish on the bank.

The afternoon drew on and it was getting colder again as the sun dropped.  My coffee supply was dwindling and despite numerous layers of clothing the cold has started to penetrate them through to my skin.  I decided to give myself until sunset in the hope of a last gasp fish but it wasn’t to be.

It had been an enjoyable day and the 5 bites I had resulted in one fish.  Part of me felt disappointed because I really feel I should have had three fish after the two stonking bites that I missed.  On the plus side though the beautiful Common Carp put a smile on my face as a I trudged the mile and a half back to the car.

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