Where’s my fishing head at?

Each month I’m finding it really interesting looking back at the previous year’s scribblings and reflecting on the differences and the similarities. I bang on about the weather all the time but this April and April last year were both similar, in short, it was wet. I did read that this year the temperature was apparently “above average”. I just can’t remember which day that was!? As I write now, there are bright skies above and finally the forecast has some settled weather and some reasonable temperatures. Everyone I talk to is craving some sun in their lives. We all need a little sunshine therapy to boost our mood and put a spring in our step.

But, whilst the weather isn’t great for my mood, I don’t think I can blame it solely on my fishing results so far this spring. For various reasons, I’ve not been firing on all cylinders and my head’s not quite been in it. Last spring was one of the best I’ve enjoyed for a while from a fishing results point of view. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it was during a period when I set myself a physical challenge and I got myself back in shape physically which brings with it a bit of mental fitness. If you feel good then life, and fishing, is so much easier. You go full of energy, keen to rise at 4am to fish for just a couple of hours before work and the decision making just feels like you’re always getting it right.

In the last few weeks we’ve had sickness and diarrhoea go through the family (literally!) and that knocked me for six. There was Easter and whilst I’m not exactly a chocoholic, there were a couple more Easter eggs in my life than I would normally have. My car has had a spell in the garage (still not fixed…). All that plus an incident that put bluntly, rocked me to my core, and it all adds up to feeling, not quite “on it”. And when I’m not quite on it, I don’t fish as often and so the positive effects of time out in the blue space are reduced. You quickly get into that negative spiral.

The sunshine has come at the right time. Time to get back on it and get my fishing head on. It’s the time of year when the dawn chorus is amazing, the trees and flowers are coming to life and it’s just good to be outside. Blink and it’s gone. The lightest day of the year will be here and it sounds crazy but, the nights start drawing in and there’s a feeling of, damn, I missed it! I don’t want to miss it!

The School of Fish - fishing at Dawn

There have been a couple of coaching sessions in April and these were both wonderful. The excitement of a first fish never gets old. But as The School of Fish gets older then the more people I get to see move from “first fishers” to anglers whose independence grows and they become more confident and proficient. Then I get to step back a bit and coach some of the smaller but really important things. Nothing major but little things that help the anglers have more control over what they’re doing. It might just be tweaks to casting but from a seated positioned rather than standing up which feels natural for a lot of people. Or it could be sinking the line between the tip of the rod and the float so that the wind does catch it and pull it out of position. Watching people reach this stage when they are increasingly in control of their fishing is really great to see.

On that one day when the sun did come out in April and there was, for the first time this year, some real warmth (I nearly write heat but I think 15 degrees is falling short of heat) in the air, I grabbed some dog biscuits and headed for a lake in search of a carp. Catching carp with a floating bait is the oldest method in the book and for me it’s the most exciting. No matter what species of fish I fish for, my favourite method is any that allows you to see the fish and in particular the bite. This could be a trout in the fry fly, bass on a surface plug, mullet in clear water, blue sharks at the side of the boat or even giant blue fin tuna doing their thing. Watching the fish, the moment they approach the bait, the heart beat going though the roof and then finally, the bite, or not, if the fish refuses the bait or lure in the last split second. And then the final test, the strike. No self-hooking bolt rigs, just your timing. It’s a real test of nerves. Alert enough so you don’t miss it, but not too late that the moment has passed. That’s what gets me excited most when I fish.

And so with my bag of dog biscuits I steadily catapulted bait into all the likely looking spots. I did this for nearly three hours before the first fish finally poked its nose out through the surface and sucked in a single biscuit. That was enough, I knew there was a chance. It still required lots more bait and patience before the moment came when I felt a bite was possible. Eventually though the moment came. The bait was in position but it was a long cast so I needed binoculars to see my small bait floating on the surface around 40 yards away. A bluish shadow appeared behind the bait, at least I though that’s what I could see through the ripples, it was very subtle. Eyes glued to the spot, there was the slightest rise in the water right where the bait. Certainly not a great big bold obvious mouth taking the bait. But just enough to know, that was a take. It’s what a lifetime of experience builds to, you just know. A quick strike met a heavy resistance, a big fish (in my world)! The opening exchange was a little hairy and rather than winding I simply walked backwards to keep the pressure even, no pumping and winding. A full ten minutes later and the fish, a common carp was ready for a quick photo before slipping back into his home. It was a lovely way to spend that brief sunny window in the weather.

So on reflection is wasn’t a bad month of fishing experiences that’s for sure but I’m determined to make even more of May.  What ever you chose to do, get your fishing head on, good luck and have fun!

The School of Fish Common Carp