Make the most of those really special mornings

June, the month where some how we reach the summer solstice before summer has even got here.  However, it really doesn’t matter what the thermometer says, if it’s light outside at 4am, and it is, then it’s time to get up and make the most of these really special mornings. 

In the last few years, April and the beginning of May have been cold and wet but, in late May and early June we’ve enjoyed warm and sunny weather and the rise in temperatures has led to freshwater fish and in particular carp, have been sparked into life, and the annual spawning ritual has taken place.  That’s my cue to leave the lakes and ponds behind and head to the coast.  So far this year we’ve had one spike in temperatures and from what I’ve heard and seen, other than a little flirt and a quick fumble on the fishy dance floor, fish up and down the country haven’t spawned yet.  But, after a few really enjoyable weeks catching carp from the surface of intimate ponds, the itch to see a bigger landscape and feel the energy of the sea had to be scratched and I’ve swapped the carp rod for the mullet and bass gear.

I did have one last evening on the pond before packing away the carp gear which resulted in a proper scrap with a really old carp.  Having tried for a couple of hours to get the fish feeding and not got much of a response I’d resigned myself to a quiet evening.  It was nealry 9pm and all the evening warmth had long since gone but I hadn’t quite given up.  It only ever takes one fish to start feeding properly and when you’re fishing on the surface you can see what’s happening and react accordingly.  As the light levels dropped one fish did start to feed and it looked like a good one.  This is where surface fishing gets exciting.  You can be so much more proactive and in my opinion part of the success when you can watch the fish and make your cast to give you the best chance.  You can move the bait to draw it into the path of a feeding fish, tease it around in a breeze until you’re right in the spot.  That’s exactly what I did as slowly an old mirror carp approached the bait, very gnetly picking off the freebies that were nearly all gone.  Finally the hookbait was in the perfect place and the that wonderful moment of an inevitable take came.  Then comes the strike and, bingo!  The fish was indeed a good one but played ball rather nicely.  It had a bit of scrap in open water then danced around the magin weeds before it felt like it was about to roll over the net cord ready for the photos.  Then from somewhere the fish gained a new lease fo life and made of the dense lilly pads.  It only just made the outer most stems but that was enough to complicate things.  I could have perhaps given it a bit more of a pull from the bank but with a relatively light hooklength I opted to jump in the boat, paddle over, pop the fish off the lilly stem and then scoop it up safely.  It so nearly went to plan but if you’ve ever played a large carp from a boat you’ll know what a comedy it is.  A decent size fish can really pull and in all honesty, it’s hard to stop them.  And so it was, a full forty five minutes of getting towed through the weeds, handling the line free from the lillies, taking up the slack and then chasing the fish again through the next weeds.  By the end both me and the fish were pretty bored of the whole situation but we persevered and got there in the end.  I hooked the fish in the light and it was dark before we got to the photos.  I wanted to get the fish back quickly and the photos sadly were a bit rushed and really poor but the memory was there.

Carp fishing - The School of Fish

The mullet fishing is always a pleasure, but in a similar vain to last year, I haven’t seen many fish.  The difference is, when I did see fish last year, even if it was just one, I caught it.  This year, I’m just not seeing any.  Much of this is down to exploring new spots.  Sometimes you hit the jackpot first time but more often than not it’ll take a few visits to understand what conditions and tides anywhere fishes best in, if indeed fish visit the spot at all.

It is easy to get into a bit of a trap when you know a spot where you could go and catch fish but one of the aspects of fishing I love is the exploration.  Can I get my walking boots on find a fish through there, or down there or up there?  That’s part of the fun and the sense of achievement.  Set a challenge and see if you can overcome it. 

I have had some success if your measure of success is catching fish but honestly, when the mornings are as beautiful as they have been, I pack up at 6:55am and head for work just as happy (well, nearly as happy) as I would if I had caught. 

Mullet fishing - The School of Fish

At the end of the month I got the phone call i’d been waiting for, the trailer was fixed and ready for collection!  We grabbed the first opportunity to head on the water for an afternoon in the sun plodding around the creeks on the Fowey.  It’s always just fun being on the water and it’s great to share it with my kids.  It’s still all a bit new for them both so one of them hasn’t yet got the confidence in the open sea and prefers the land to be close by so haven’t really ventured out to sea yet.  The other one is desperate to head for the horizon so I’m sure pretty soon one of them will be out there experiencing a bit of blue water. 

In the river it’s easy for them to cast lures around for hours on end and enjoy the bass that live in the river.  As a kid I did loads of spinning off the sea wall in Dawlish.  Spinning is great, you are forever practicing your casting without really knowing it, totally different to casting and waiting for a fish to come to your static bait.   It is exilarting feeling that tug as a fish hits the lure when you’re forth years old, it’s even better when you’re just five years old!  And if there’s an ice cream to celebrate with, it’s even better. 

Despite not catching loads of of fish, on reflection, June wasn’t a bad month after all.  Let’s hope the winds drop and we can head for the horison on July!

Bass fishing - The School of Fish