Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Fish I Lost The Night Before I Hooked It.

As I type I have a fleeting banded image branded onto my retina which is burning a hole into my every thought process. A glimpse of something stupendous that will only serve to fuel the fire until I next return. I might have trouble dropping off to sleep tonight.

It's naturally a lost fish that's the source of my turmoil, but I'll get around to recounting that painful moment shortly.

I've been busy since last writing here. Sometimes fishing, sometimes not, but always amongst the great outdoors of our amazing English countryside. On the cusp of spring.

Last Sunday saw the Leamington Angling Association work party attempt a Herculean bog-lifting exercise at Jubilee pools. Sodden ground and ton weight out-houses made even the off road Land Rover slip and slide.

A fair amount of brute force coupled with a dash of logistical nouse did the trick however and soon the lady and gentlemen patrons of Jubilee pools will be enjoying the plumbed-in toilets on a hard standing with an en suite wash basin. Oooh la la.

Note to reader: My kids never lifted a finger to help.
On Monday night I played benign spectator to Jeff Hatt's Barbel exploits on the Avon at Lucy's Mill. I've done my fair share of Barbel fishing on the Avon and so once his new PB fish was safely returned I suggested we decamp to the pub to toast it rather than stay out any longer. One fish a trip is all that most can hope for from here.

An evening outing on the upper Warwickshire Avon saw me bank yet another four pound chub - this one was four pounds three ounces. If next years challenge is to bank as many chub between four pounds and four pounds four ounces then I'm a nailed on victor. So far I've had a four, a four-one, two four-threes and a four-four.

4lbs 3oz Chub.
On Thursday I spent the day with Andy back at Lucy's Mill. We were both hoping for a late season barbel and the conditions looked spot on. The river was up and coloured but not in flood. I needed a large four ounce feeder to hold bottom in the flow of the main weir and apart from an hour perch fishing in the slack water mid-afternoon I hung it out there in the flow all day, but only had a bream to show for it.

Load the rod Andy.
Jeff, I call this piece 'Sticks and Cork Amongst the Grass'. I thought about climbing a tree to take a photo of a dog turd  but I'm just not avant garde enough! :) FYI your photos are something to aim for.

I think the big guy in the sky (Patrick Moore) was pointing us to Sausage Island.

On Saturday Danny and I had the pleasure of a day afloat on a rowing boat at Blenheim Palace Lake after perch, and although neither of us connected with our target species we both properly avoided the blank in style, something which from research is commonplace amongst anglers at Blenheim.

The grounds of the palace were sculptured by the safe hands of one Lancelot Brown aka 'Capability' to his mates, and boy does he do a good back garden (yard).
I had to photograph the directions to the car park  as neither of us could remember them.

Although strong shouldered, Danny's rowing capabilities at times fell short on accuracy. 
This was Danny's (many) attempts to position us close to a reed bed. At one point we did spear the boat onto the shore.

Between us we had a pike and a tench each. Anticipating a tough day, and after hearing of Jeff's purple patch  Danny had the genius idea of fooling the fish into thinking Hatt was amongst them and created a pair of masks for us each to wear when times became hard.

Here I am with my five pound one ounce tench which succumbed to the illusion:

Danny comes up trumps with our new specimen-fooling disguises.
I'm not the best predator angler as those who know me will vouch for and my deadbait rod had been still all day. Rather than cast tight to the margin for my last cast I decided to remove my float and lob a straight legered deadbait out into the deeper water. I'd like to claim some well thought out strategy to this move but to be honest it was just a change from what hadn't previously been working. I set the bait runner onto it's lightest setting and carried on pole fishing, facing the other direction.

The boat was naturally swaying gently against the mud weights and whilst the line settled we could both hear a few Jaws-like clicks of the reel. After a couple of minutes in the deeps the reel began to click, very slowly. We discussed whether this was a fishy phenomenon and after a few seconds of steady clicking I picked up the rod, wound down and struck. My deadbait came in with deep lacerations down it's side, something we had both been experiencing on and off all day and which was certainly caused by signal crayfish in the lake. In fact Danny had pulled one out earlier on his worm.

I put on a new bait and lobbed it out into the depths once again. We were now well into last knockings. The sun was setting and a Kite quartered the lake.

Again, after a few minutes my reel began to click: tick...tick...tick.....tick, but this time the rod tip was definitely pointing down  towards the water and the ticks were closer together. Once again I wound down and struck and to my surprise felt a fish on the end.

Within seconds of being hooked the fish was at the boat and I said to Danny, "I dont' think it's that big". Upon me uttering this the fish powered off, away from the boat and taking line from a tight clutch. I soon had it up on the surface and in no time Danny had it aboard. The big barbless single was neatly in the scissors.

It was once it was in the boat I could see the size of the fish. On the scales it went seventeen pounds seven ounces. A new personal best which turned an already great day into an exceptional one.

17lbs 7ozs Blenheim pike.

On Sunday I had few hours at a local commercial and had a perch of 1lb 5oz. Seasoned local big fish angler Merv' Wilkinson commended the venue to me. Unlike other sports where people are forced into retirement in their mid thirties, anglers just seem to mature like good wine. So just a hint from Merv' was enough to inspire me.

1lb 5oz perch.
Yesterday Leamington Angling Association committee, accompanied by the students of Warwickshire College swung into action once again to undertake a netting of a Warwickshire trout pool with an excess of coarse fish.

The net result (geddit) was a large number of quality bream, roach and a few rudd which went into Horseshoe pool at Jubilee.


And so finally to tonight's trip. After getting home from a tiring day on yesterdays netting party, damp, muddy and knackered, I wearily readied my gear for this evening's fishing. I was going back to the local commercial after perch and so packed my margin pole. At the last minute I thought about taking a second rod but rather than break down one which was set up I chose to try out my latest eBay bargain; a Shakespeare ten foot Avon style affair - it will be perfect for the upper Avon in summer - stout yet stumpy. I had a reel already loaded with braided line and so coupled it with that and a leader of mono.

To cut an already long post short I had three carp at the commercial. The biggest was thirteen pounds fifteen ounces. 'Wang' went the elastic, 'Bugger!' went the angler, I was not after carp this night.

13lbs 15oz Carp.
As the light started to fade the float on my Avon rod plunged beneath and I swiftly picked it up and felt a fish. A large perch rose to the surface and hung there for a split second. My left hand reached for my landing net and I was bodily moving towards it. The Avon rod had little give in it's tip and the braid was taught between me and the fish. A quick shake of the head whilst still on the surface and the perch threw the hook, and sunk very slowly out of sight. I plunged the landing net into the water hoping to trap it against the near bank but it was too late. The fish was gone.

I've not caught many big perch but it was definitely two pounds plus. I am preventing myself from greater estimates in order to preserve my sanity. If only I'd have put up a rod with a more flexible tip rather than go for the lazy option of the 'free' rod last night, that perch might have been mine.

All I know is that the image of that lost fish is already beckoning me to try again.

You know the score mate:

Earlier this evening someone else was in the lead.


  1. Well done Keith! What a fantastic fat thing - the pike, that is ;-)) Seriously, it's got a proper tummy. Just looking at the photo I'd put it over 20.

  2. Lovely tench and pike, Keith, shame about the big perch though. That's the worst thing in fishing - losing a big one at the net.

  3. Some good work there Keith. I like the Blenheim idea. A boat for a summer's day on an estate lake sounds like a possible plan for later in the year.