Saturday, 10 September 2016

Too hard to Handle...

The summer stretched out before me as a smorgasbord of opportunity and I intended to feast! Work-life balance is something to strive for and it seems I can only do so with polar opposites. Now but a fading memory, I console myself with this pale reflection of what was ultimately a wonderful and therapeutic experience.
Time is precious; a maxim I am acutely aware of, yet the sense of pressure and imperative achievement ingrained in me, perhaps conditioned by my working environment, nearly led me to miss the moment altogether. 
It is easy to mistake the objective of angling for catching fish. Whilst this is ones occupation on the bank and a helpful focus for those who have high ambitions for their fishing which for me seems not to be possible, it is merely the tip of the iceberg. However, at the beginning of my summer I saw a short window of opportunity in which to meet a target and dutifully became increasingly stressed about the notion of failure. The thing about stress is it impedes performance and for the first two days of fishing  it clearly impacted every aspect of mine. Such a commotion was made by errors owing to hasty actions. I felt despondent as I understood the consequences but of course this only added to the snowball effect causing something of an avalanche.
Phone calls with my wife helped me to put things in perspective as did some sentiments from Kevin Parr's book 'Rivers Run' which I read whilst fishing, helping me to realise that 'the moments between bites meant more than the bites themselves'.
Eventually I entered a state of peace, began to appreciate my surroundings and accepted things at face value. Not only did this enrich my experience tenfold but facilitated better angling and, with some patience employed, the fish started to show.

Taking some knowledge from those who were willing to share it and trusting my eyes and instincts to fill the gaps my catches started small and eventually increased in size, though none gave me so much joy as the smallest of all enveloped in my net as it was the first to break the silence.
One conversation on my last trip with an angler well acquainted with this water really opened my eyes. He seemed to think outside the box and I found it inspiring. It reminded me of the way I fished as a child whilst still learning and oblivious to convention. It awoke something in me just at the time when the rods were due to be hung back up for another extended period of abstainence. I have realised however that these periods of solitude accompanied only by nature are essential for the soul. To be absent for long would be too hard to handle.

Friday, 2 September 2016

A Moment on Milton...

The grounds of the Bury Hill estate were landscaped at about the same time that the Fort, which was the location of my last excursion, was built. However, in spite of this and the fact that both venues host good shoals of my latest love, crucian carp, in many ways they could not be more contrasting. Compared to the Fort's moat which boasts a wild, unkempt beauty, Bury Hill is stately, serene and manicured to perfection! 
I travelled up here on this occasion with my good friend Kent who was also keen to catch a cru' and after a trip last year where we fished the main lake - 'Old Bury Hill', but caught little other than bream and perch, this year we opted for Milton Lake; a smaller pond lined with lilies and reed beds and reportedly well stocked with our quarry.
The day started slowly but both of our floats plunged beneath the surface before long baring up only a small bream each. Humourous grumbles were exchanged before Kent suddenly exclaimed "I've got one!" and started walking over towards me with a crucian in the net, hoping for a photograph. As I glanced over my shoulder I saw movement in my peripheral vision. "So have I!" I answered as I lurched to prevent my feeder rod from being pulled off the rest - a rod I had not expected or for that matter hoped to receive a bite on as I favour the float for this species. That said, whereas my experience of a crucian on the float at the moat was a relatively gentle affair, on the feeder here at Milton both the bite and the fight that followed were comparatively savage!
Neither fish were massive but we were delighted nonetheless!

Fishing for the rest of the day was fairly pedestrian but given that the gent in the shop where we purchased our tickets said it had been a little slow of late, we were grateful to be catching. It seemed all I could manage on the float, no matter what bait I tried, were small perch and bream but the feeder rod, sporting a bright fruity banded pellet, produced a few nice tench and two crucians for me. Kent however, had all his fish on the float including four crucians to 1lb 9oz which was a new PB for him!

Kent with his PB crucian of 1lb 9oz

In spite of the very controlled conditions, this was a lovely day of pleasure-fishing. By no means was a catch guaranteed and we certainly had to work for each bite but they were  definitely there to be had. Whilst waiting for bites I could not help but notice an enormous wealth of birdlife - Kingfishers busy gliding back and forth, coots nesting, grey herons stalking the margins, tufted ducks diving, swallows swooping and buzzards high in the sky. On my previous visit with my father in February pike fishing on a punt on the old lake, we also spotted a red kite as well as all the aforementioned birds. 
While I regularly target carp on still waters, mostly with modern methods, it is really fun to break the monotony with other styles of angling at a range of contrasting locations. Variety, as they say, adds the spice...