The Sitting Swim
The main one I wanted to tell you about is a favourite but is unlike the rest, for this is a swim I like to sit in, not fish. This has come about by not receiving my membership as yet, I sent off for it eight weeks ago, and am told it will be with me this week, but although I’ve missed out on weeks of fishing in near perfect conditions, but have been visiting regularly watching carp, feeding carp and gazing wantingly into classic crucian swims, it hasn’t been all bad. It has given me a chance to not only escape work and life for a while, it has allowed me to sit, think and soak up the atmosphere without worrying about whether or not I’ll actually catch anything, remove the rods and remove the distraction. This particular swim, 37, is on a corner. There is a large lily bed out in front, a dense overhanging tree of some description (sorry, still not studied that Tree Book) and various strands of weed untidily reaching up to the surface. I often spot carp milling around in the pads moving them around and sometimes they part quite ferociously, like those trees in Jurassic Park. There must also be a channel behind that tree, it’s not clearly visible but the carp disappear behind it and re-appear the other side. Quite often I have a pocketful of dog biscuits, anyone who fishes with me regularly will tell you it’s unlikely that I haven’t. And I love watching the carp here barge each other out of the way to get to the free offerings I give them. After a while of watching them, the desire to cast at them fades until, ultimately, I leave them to enjoy their meal undisturbed.
Only yesterday I sat there for an hour during my lunch break, the beauty is that it rests near to my place of work so visits most days are possible. The weather has changed somewhat over the last few days, rain has come and with it fierce winds. Being a four sided moat there is usually as area that doesn’t receive any wind at all for long periods, and here is where the duckweed forms. Yesterday the duckweed was on the move and collected in the corner just of swim 37. A hole was prominent, a perfect circle within the tightly packed duckweed signalling that a carp had recently leapt clear of the water and landed in much the same hole. I envisaged it also to be quite close to my arrival, just a minute or so the hole closed up.
As I sat I spotted a patch of small bubbles rise to the top just off to my right in the centre channel, they continued to pepper the surface for a few minutes and continued in a straight line. They were too small for carp bubbles, possibly tench or crucians. But it was just nice to sit and watch them for a change without being in a hurry to cast at them. Instead was free to sit, watch, admire and follow them with a picture in my mind of a four pound crucian sifting through the silt looking for bloodworm. There are big crucians in there, certainly over three pounds, and that is a very exciting fish seeing as I am yet to land a two pounder. But I fear I might have missed the boat this season as far as the crucians go, I promised myself at the start of the season Id target them this summer, but only one trip and a summer of ups and downs has meant that I will probably have to wait until next season to fulfil that dream.
A Regiment of Perch
Another favourite swim of mine is at a small coarse fishery near Salisbury. Two ponds with islands in each have provided me with some great carp action in previous years, but my last few trips have been all about those stripy predators I have come to love. Perch are marvellous fish, so bold, fearless and yet cunning enough when they want to be. There is a picture of a perch in the fishery hut which is four pounds two ounces. One ounce larger than my own personal best but such a magnificent fish, and there are a good few back up fish also. My best from the venue is a little over two pounds, but even the half pounders make a day worthwhile. The swim I like is nestled between two hedgerows. Don’t know of many venues with hedgerows bordering the margins, reeds yes, trees and bushes yes, but hedgerows? Well it works for me, I can sit back, fit one rod through the gap and remain unseen.
When fishing this swim I tend to go for a large worm, there are many small roach, rudd and perch that can provide an excellent day’s sport if those are your intended quarry, but for the bigger perch I tend to go for a large lob. The carp, however, are also partial to a worm, so there can be quite some fireworks when a six pound carp tears off, centrepin spinning, cane creaking and thumb burning. Incidentally, all going well I’m to fish there this coming Sunday. A day with my Dad, and it works out perfectly, he prefers the carp, they come along more frequently and have less prickly bits, leaving me to watch the dibber float and imagine the fear in that worm as the regiment draws near.
The Grayling Glide
The last swim I’ll talk about is the glide I trott for grayling during winter time on the river Itchen. This beautiful stream is fairly shallow and as clear as peering through polished glass. The grayling are visible holding up in pockets, picking off the odd gentle as they trundle through the swim the smaller fish take charge, but soon enough the confidence and hunger of the larger fish takes over and the swim is alive with activity. Brown trout and minnows make up the other species found here, and there are times when the mighty minnow is as bold as the perch in the previous chapter, beating every other fish to the hook –bait even though they are many times their size.
The swim I always head for first is easy to step into, this requires thigh waders and think socks within as the water running through here in December is decidedly chilly, as I found to my peril one winter when wading across to retrieve a favourite float from the trees on the other side. The water rose above my wellingtons and above my knees, I almost turned back then but the thought of the hours I spent making that float made me continue my journey, unhitch the line and trudge back victorious with the float held aloft and a grimace on my face, the water had risen way above the two feet deep I was fishing.
There is a large tree, I think an oak to the left downstream, it reminds me of the swim a barbel was caught from in “A Passion for Angling”. I can wade out to the end of it and get a clear run through, the fish tend to hold up under its fronds and just as the float nears the exact location I can almost hear my heartbeat gather pace in anticipation of the float sliding under and another beautiful lady of the stream coming my way. In the early morning the sun shines through gaps on the oak making the giving the water’s surface on my side the effect of glistening marble, it is quite wonderful. We are almost in October now so it won’t be too long until I set forth to the Itchen for more of the same, and I can’t wait.