The wheels nearly came off!

On the freshwater side of fishing life, May proved to be a good month.  But on the saltwater side of things, things weren’t exactly plain sailing!

At the start of the month and with a bit of sunshine at long last, and having enjoyed some successful carp fishing at the end of April, I was keen to try for some more.  With the weather just about warm enough and a light breeze blowing into a weedy corner of a favourite lake, I wanted to try surface fishing for them again.  This is a lake where, “they don’t take baits off the top”.  However, my experience in the last 12-months months suggests, they don’t take bait off the top if there is no bait on the top for them to take.  I haven’t cast a bait out on the bottom of this particular lake for over 12-months and yet I’ve enjoyed my best fishing.  Just because people tell you it won’t work, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.  It often pays to be a bit different and try something else.  That plus, if they start feeding from the surface, they really do become so much easier to catch.  You can have a thousand baits floating on the surface and getting a take on your bait might look impossible but it’s actually easy to put a bait in the path of a feeding fish and then you’re not waiting for a bite, you’re making it happen.  You can then get selective, why put the bait in front of the small fish when you can put it in front of the big one?  I’ve said it before, but for me it’s so exciting when you can see everything happening in front of you, way more exciting than waiting for your one in a thousand baits to be picked up off the bottom.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s a really successful way of doing it, but if you want a quick bite that’s full of excitement, catching them off the top is the way I’d recommend. 

Back to the lake and with a raft of baits floating on the surface the first fish showed and interest quite quickly.  There were a group of small fish feeding cautiously and one much larger fish some distance away, picking off baits that had blown across the lake.  Watching the path of this fish you could see the route and the pattern and so when I was confident, I cast in its path, gave it a little adjustment after it landed with a gentle plop, waited patiently for a full sixty seconds before it reappeared and followed the script with an easy, confident take.  Perfect! After a good scrap with one of the lake’s big old residents it was safely in the net.  I popped the hook out in the net and on looking across the lake, there were more fish up and feeding.  There was no point in rushing photos, so I chanced another quick cast.  The next take came just as quickly and soon enough a rare one to the bank joined his old mate in the net.  An hour’s fishing and a brace of twenties in the net caught off the top, happy days! 

I managed to get back to the lake on two more occasions.  There’s always some jobs that need doing so I got on with the chores first and when everything was done I’d got an hour left for a quick go off the top again.  The next fish was a small one.  I was running out of time to pick up the kids so couldn’t be fussy and took the first one that came my way.  On the next occasion I got them feeding much closer in and could single out another really good looking fish.  This one was a male, easy to tell by the first signs of spawning tubercles on its head.  The fight was incredible and had me chasing it all over the lake.  One of those ones where after the forth weed bed you’re thinking, there’s no way I’m getting this one in but, everything held and eventually he slipped into the net. 

All in all, a lovely bit of fishing in May.

The School of Fish - A good looking male

The sea fishing side of things however was pants!  I tried a couple of Friday mornings before work in search of Gilt Head Bream.  They are a great fish to catch and I’ve enjoyed catching several from the Fal and the Helford but have been trying another, less prolific spot, but one that’s rather convenient before work for a couple of hours.  It means a 4am alarm clock which can feel like hard work but the moment you step outside and hear that dawn chorus, there’s no place I’d rather be. 

I’d timed the session and the location to meet with the rising flood tide.  On both occasions there was a foamy algae covering the surface.  I don’t there was anything sinister about the bloom, just the classic “May Weed” you get as the sea temperatures start to rise in late spring and early summer.  On both sessions the water was lifeless.  Normally you’d see small bass and an abundance of mullet drifting on the tide but there was barely a sign of a fish.  They were beautiful mornings but I was definitely fishing and not catching.  I should have known I was on a hiding to nothing on that first session when I realised, after tidying up and stripping back my fishing kit, I’d forgotten to put the leads back in the bag.  A quick bit of thinking and I’d whipped up a knot around a convenient stone and I was in business.  But even my stealthy stone wasn’t good enough to impress the fish.

And then when the weather was looking good I thought I’d get the new boat out.  The first chance came on a weekend and I thought I’d take one of the kids out in the bay.  We had everything ready and literally put the trailer on the tow hitch when I had one last look at the sky and the mammatus clouds that were forming.  These are spectacular clouds but they spell one thing, rain and generally stormy rain.  I checked the weather radar (really useful tool) on my phone and there in the bay just a few miles from home was torrential rain.  There wasn’t a breath of wind and it should have been perfect but with a few flashes of lightning starting to register on the chart as well, there was no way I was going out with my boy.  So we unhitched the trailer, unpacked the kit and drove in the opposite direction and he too enjoyed some surface fishing for carp.  It was his first time doing this and he loved feeding the carp and watching them take the bait.  Incidentally a mate of mine did fish on that afternoon on his boat.  He confirmed the rain was biblical but, he also caught a very fine couches bream.  Effort equals reward and all that.  Good fishing mate!

The School of Fish - loving his surface fishing experience

A few days later and with light winds forecast yet again I decided I’d fish after work which would entail towing the boat to work in the morning.  That too didn’t work, not weather related this time but trailer related and, the wheels nearly came off!  No damage to the boat or the car but the trailer axle is confirmed to be f#cked!  So that’s now sat waiting for a part with a lead-time of around six weeks.  The bank balance is also in for a nasty shock.  The joy of boats!  It should be sorted for when the big fish really arrive off the south coast and then, well then the weather will get windy and there will be another reason I can’t get out. 

Thank goodness for carp stuck in ponds!

The School of Fish - The wheels nearly came off!