Do you ever get those days, when no matter what you do, or what bait you choose and what depth you fish, they just will not take your bait?! Today was one of those days.
It was a crisp afternoon, 3c with no wind and overcast. There was no one in sight. I usually see a few anglers scattered around, trying their luck with spinning rods, but today – zilch!
I arrive at my location, a pretty little swim where I’ve had many a day catching good bags of roach. Approximately 13ft deep with a gravelly river bed. I set up and adjusted my float so I’m touching bottom. Today’s baits were mixed maggots, some leftover castors and bread. On my ledger rod I had a nice piece of spam with a size 6 hook buried inside it.
I always start with 9mm bread punch, then if the roach home in, I’ll move on to 11mm to get the bigger stamp of fish. 30 minutes in and the roach are definitely not liking my Warburtons. Two bites, two in the net. Pristine examples of river roach. It’s so nice to see that roach are making a comeback, but not today. Over the next two hours I changed baits, depth, hook lengths, hook sizes and distances. No matter what I did, they just wasn’t interested. Winter fishing eh!
At around 15:45 I had caught five roach, my ledger rod was as still as could be, not a twitch. As the light was fading away I decided to retire my float rod. I made myself a brew and had a chat with my dog whilst packing the rod away. The plan was to fish until darkness.
I moved my chair nearer to my dog and he took this as an invitation, and jumped up and perched himself upon my knees. The warmth he generated was definitely welcome. I think he was thinking the same about me, we were both content to just sit and wait.
There’s nothing like listening and watching the noisy Canada geese return home after a days foraging, as they circle several times before landing. Adding to the melodies of dusk; The distinctive whistle from mallard ducks as they fly past at speed; The pheasant cock birds calling their hens as they go up to roost, and the sharp clapping of wood pigeon wings as they settle and nestle onto branches above me. I couldn’t be in a better place.
Well what happened next really truly surprised me. I was hoping for a possible chub, a nice sized perch, or even an eel as I’ve caught eels at dusk before. I was about to switch on my infrared light, when my dog jumps off my knees and stares at my rod. I press the switch on my head torch to full beam and see my rod tip twitching. By the time I got to my feet the twitch transformed to a slow deep bending knock, which was getting faster by the second. The bells on my line started to chime in time with each heavy knock. I waited for a further two pulls, then lifted the rod from it’s rest.
The next eight minutes, I was in battle trying to control a fish that felt almost like a barbel. During the summer I had lost four fish that felt exactly like this one.
Each thud it gave, I prayed I didn’t lose it, but each turn of the reel I felt I gained some luck. After several runs and trying my best to keep him out of cover, he starts to tire. When the fish eventually came to the surface, I honestly thought it was a bream, yes a bream – a fighting one! As I got it nearer and ready to land, my head torch shone directly on it. I moved my head forwards with my neck stretched out like a rooster and squinted my eyes. “A carp!” I shouted in excitement. Several unhappy wood pigeons took flight from the woods, slapping their wings in disgust at being disturbed. And in that moment I froze, forgetting to land it. I’m standing there with a landing net in one hand and in the other my rod in full curve. The carp must have been thinking “Come on mate you’ve won, what are you waiting for, bring me in!” I quickly came out of my daze and slid the net underneath him. “Yes!”
I didn’t have any weighing scales so I’m not too sure of it’s weight, however it didn’t really bother me because a river carp to me is special. I may not ever catch one again. What a surprise!
I’ve heard of them being in this area, and now I can truly say they are actually here.