Monday, 28 January 2013

Another day at Vale farm…

Recently I have found myself angling mainly because I have the blessing, or there isn’t anything else on, and not because it feels right. But, with the changes my world has seen over the past year I really can’t be seen to be choosy. So with a full day Saturday it was down to the simple (that’s sarcasm) task of deciding where to fish late January with the best chance of some form of success…

The local river still wasn’t looking very welcoming, a couple of local ponds were visited Friday afternoon but again looks quite lifeless. To be honest I really didn’t know what to do, I even called the roach pool to see if it was wobbly but was told that it is closed until late February. So in the end, and after a lot of thinking and re-thinking, I settled upon Vale farm. Something keeps drawing me back to that place, although I have to pay for a day ticket and drive 40 minutes each way, I still enjoy fishing there enough to get up early and make the journey when most sane folk are tucked up in their beds.

There was only one pond on my mind again too, the bottom pond. The thought of capturing one of those dark scaly beasts in the midst of winter was very appealing. I set off at a little after 6:30 and arrived just as the sky was brightening at 7:15. There was nobody else there and it stayed that way until almost lunchtime. Well, apart from the shooters, and I’ll get to that shortly. The couple fishing this pond a few weeks previous had some luck fishing to a particular bank from the other side. I’m not one for casting all the way across a lake, so prefer to sneak up and drop them in the edge. I set up well away from the waters egde, dropped two hook-baits just a rod length from the bank fifteen or so yards either side of me into the deep margins and retreated.

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I sat back in my chair with one eye on the rods and one watching the sun begin to climb the sky. At first it just lit up the vapour trails caused by early morning jet aircraft, but gradually the orange glow intensified until the first rays of sunshine had me reaching for the polarised glasses. The bank I was fishing was going to be the first margin to receive the sunlight, thus making it the warmest part of the pool, so I was confident I was at in the right spot. Then, just as I was starting to get comfy, war broke out.

It was very similar to that of a few weeks previous, only this time I was fishing the bank closest to the woods. First there were men with big sticks and sticks with white plastic on the ends. These were waved in the air making a loud whooshing sound causing ducks and pheasants to fly up into the air from their roosts, which is where the gunners came in. The noise was deafening and I felt sure the chances of catching a wary winter carp were ruined for sure; I just had to hope they would get their fun out of the way quickly. Then men with guns started to descend upon the lake. One came over and said they wouldn’t be long and were just passing through.

Every so often I’d hear what sounded like rain, then I worked out it was the shotgun cartridge contents falling to the ground in a shower of lead pellets. Sometimes they would shower me; it was making me feel quite uneasy. But soon enough they retired to the big house for food and warmth and once again I was felt alone with the pool and the job of enjoying my quiet day’s angling.

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As usual I didn’t much feel like sitting still too long so found myself creeping along the banks peering into the deep clear margins hoping to see something moving. But throughout the whole morning I saw no fishy activity and had no attention to the rods. By lunchtime I decided that after my cheese and pickle sandwiches I’d wind in and have a look at the other pools.

Walk the pools I did, during which I bumped into Nick, the owner, who had come to collect his ticket money. We got chatting and he told me of a couple of lads fishing the middle pond the day previous who had caught a few fish. Overnight the pool had half frozen and there were still pockets of snow lying around, but the new still gave me the encouragement to make a move and to see if I could put a fish on the bank.

With all my gear in my new swim on the middle pond I cast the two ledger rods as close as I could to the island and sat back to await events and it didn’t take long to receive some interest. The left hand rod tip nodded, nodded again and slowly pulled round (at this stage I would have expected the Optonics to alert me but both batteries need replacing so they are just used as rod rest heads), I picked up the rod and felt a fish plough off in the direction of a naked willow on the edge of the island. I kept the pressure on and steered the fish into open water, played it out under the rod tip and slipped the net under a small, but portly mirror carp.

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With the fish returned I recast both rods and sat back. A cold wind sprang up and I found myself lifting my collar to protect my neck from the worst of a biting breeze. I gave it another hour but with no more bites returned to the lure of the bottom pond and, incidentally, part two of the shoot. This time the shoot seemed to be deeper into the woods, perhaps that was for my benefit, but it was still loud and quite off putting.

This time around I opted for a swim a bit further around the pool. The left hand rod fished to my left just to the edge of where a willow hung over the water, and the right hand rod fished out in front around twenty yards distance. As I sat and watched the slack line between my rod tip and the water I noticed it twitch, and it did so a number of times. Thinking that these were line bites and perhaps the fish were between me and where I was fishing I wound in and recast closer in, at around fifteen yards, but the line bites continued.

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Meanwhile, I noticed the left hand rod tip pull hard round and leapt from my chair, but before I got to it the rod tip sprang back. I wound in to see if anything was adrift and cast back out. This happened again quite soon after casting and it was getting quite frustrating as I’d inched the other rod back to around ten yards out and it was still happening. Then I remembered being told that this pool contained a lot of smallish bream and surprise surprise the one bite I struck at resulted in a slimey of around a pound flapping around in the margin.

With the sun already low and the temperature starting to drop, the thought of returning home to the smiling face of Jessica was getting too much so after a slow pack up I made my way back to the car and began the journey home. It was an interesting day, I didn’t spot the chaffinch of last week and even the robins were a little timid, but perhaps that was due to the thought that they might get shot at any moment.

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