Persistence pays

Father and son team Ian and Greg used to fish together twenty years ago. Unusually it was Greg who had introduced his father to the sport. They were looking to get back into it after a long layoff due to family commitments.

Picks Cottage was local to them so it was the obvious place. I was slightly concerned that we might struggle in the very warm conditions, but when I fished it the day before I managed several carp quite easily.

We started with the usual tackle handling exercises on dry land, then got fishing, Ian with a swimfeeder rig and Greg with a waggler float. The first fish came straight away to Ian, in the form of one of the recently stocked small crucian carp. This species is notorious for biting very gently. We were getting subtle indications on both rods, missing most of them.

After an hour, we had still had no bites from the proper carp, so we started switching things around. We tried sweetcorn, maggots, bread and worm for bait. On the waggler we fished shallow, at mid-depth and on the bottom. No good – very different from the previous day.

Time was up but Greg was not for quitting. While Ian tried yet another bait – pellets – on the waggler, Greg and I went over to the other side of the lake to try for the carp which had congregated there. They were cruising about slowly close to the surface. It was a case of creeping up quietly and casting a piece of bread to them on a freeline rig (just a hook – no float or weight).

The first fish Greg cast to took the bait but he missed it on the strike. After that, the carp seemed to be psychically aware that we were trying to catch them – they never came anywhere near the bait!

We looked up to see Ian’s rod bending. A fish at last on the pellet waggler, which came to the net after a good scrap:

Ian with carp

Shortly after, he hooked another. Rather sportingly he gave the rod to his son to bring it in:

father and son fishing

So it was 3:0 to dad, but afterwards I reflected that it was due to Greg’s persistence that they fished on and had the two carp at the end. It had been quite a hard session but one that covered a few different baits and tactics.

Carp tops a mixed bag

Sunny, Preeya and Rahul had been fishing a couple of years ago and were keen to try again. The aim of the lesson was to get them to the point where they could go fishing independently in future; they needed to know not just how to fish, but how to set the gear up.

The weather was a lot cooler than recently, with a bit of a North breeze. When I made a start an hour ahead of time, it took a while to get the fish biting, but some light loosefeeding with maggots got the roach going.

We started off whip fishing, which provided lots of bites and hence lots of opportunities to practice baiting the hook, casting, handling fish and unhooking them. The students also learned how to plumb up, and experimented with fishing at different depths.

Next we did some exercises with the fixed spool reel and learned how to cast. It turned out Sunny was a genuine left hander and he was much happier fishing with the reel handle on the right. You hardly ever see people fishing like this so I can only assume most left handed anglers fish with a right handed setup (i.e. handle on the left).

While Preeya and Rahul had a go waggler fishing with a rod and reel, I helped Sunny set up a whip he had brought along, which had come with a free carp rig. We went through all the relevant knots, how to change the hooklength etc.

He resumed fishing and quickly got amongst the roach and perch again. One of his casts ended up very close in to the bank – seconds later the elastic was pulled out and the pole was bending alarmingly as a sizeable carp surged off. Preeya and Rahul came round to see what the excitement was, but we all kept low to avoid spooking the fish. Sunny kept the pressure on and after a couple of minutes it was in the net:

Sunny's carp

It was a bit lucky that it was hooked on a strong carp rig rather than the finer roach tackle he had been using earlier!

In the last half hour Sunny had a small bream on a method feeder, Preeya added a decent rudd on the whip and Rahul managed a few roach on the waggler rod. It had been an enjoyable session with a good mixed bag of fish.

Chasing summer rainbows

Recently I found a new trout fishery, a small spring-fed lake with very clear water. My first trips there were during the recent warm weather and there was a lot of algae floating on the surface having bloomed in the sunlight.

trout lake

Rainbow trout were cruising about in the gaps between the weed looking very catchable, but surprise surprise, they turned out to be rather elusive. They would approach the fly purposefully then turn away at the last second. I got very absorbed in this visual fishing which requires a stealthy approach.

After a fishless hour or so I spotted two fish coming towards me along a narrow channel in the weed. I managed to drop the fly in their path and the leading fish accelerated and took it. It turned out to be a chub – a river fish really and this was the first I have caught on a stillwater:

fly caught chub

After that, it was back to trout spotting. Eventually one took hold after I dropped the nymph into the shady water right under my own bank. Perhaps the lack of bright sunshine in that spot helped disguise the line?

rainbow trout

The next day, I had Tom along for a fly casting and fly fishing lesson. He was new to this branch of the sport but after an hour he was casting quite a decent line. We spent a short while looking at tackle setup, knots and flies, and then started fishing on the lake.

It is one thing learning to cast on grass, quite another to get a line out on the water while fishing. The beginner often struggles to keep the fly out of snags, avoid tangles and maintain control of the line while the fly is in the water. In this case, the floating weed was an additional hazard, with accurate casting needed to avoid it. Tom gradually mastered all of this and presented his fly to several trout, all of which refused it.

fly fishing

He got his reward in the end, in very similar circumstances to mine the previous day – the fly dropped inches from the bank where we could see the fish come up and take it. Exciting and rewarding fishing in idyllic surroundings:

Tom with trout

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