Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Longest day of the year...

It is also on track to be the hottest day here in the UK in over 40 years. I remember the summer of 1976 it was hot and I was working in a printer's studio in the East End of London. As I was the 'New Boy' I was stuck with any darkroom work. The dark room was an old cupboard that still housed the hot water cylinder - it must have been 200º in there!

Today I went to Oakley Road Fishery (ORF) and I am pleased I did. By lunchtime it was so hot I had already drunk all my drink - all two litres of it! As the fishery is only a few miles away and with a day ticket cost of only £7.00 (That is cheap for down here in the South East) I was not bothered about packing up after six or seven hours. There is no way I was going to sit there and fry in sun-block.

I have been on a mission in recent months to take less gear with me. Well, it may be laudable to try and fish with minimum gear but I think I may have taken this a bit to far. Today, I left home at about 07:30, so no great rush, and arrived at ORF by 08:00. I could have got there earlier but there is no real advantage in that when I am just planning a sit by the lake with some fishing thrown in. I had taken just one rod and one reel. My 13ft 'vintage' (ish!) Silstar match rod and a medium sized Greys fixed spool reel. Bait was limited to just maggots, casters and pellets. I only had a minimal amount of end tackle. In fact. everything I had with me I could easily carry in one go.

Initially I was going to take a couple of feeder/picker rods with me but, in a last minute change of heart, I decided to leave them behind, working on my minimal gear idea. Although I had left the rods behind I had earlier packed some feeders and groundbait that I still had with me. This was advantageous, as it turned out.

There has been some talk recently on the ORF Facebook page regarding the impending arrival of Doug Anderson, all the way from Australia. I knew he had been here for over a week now so I was not sure if I was going to meet this mystery member of Oakley Royalty. I needn't have worried as sitting in the opulent surroundings of the fishery's office was Doug himself. He welcomed me warmly and I introduced myself as "Ralph, the bloke with the blog". To my surprise, his eyes lit up and he said he had actually read it. Blimey, I thought I was the only one who actually reads my waffle...

I made my way around the lake to the other side, the water is apparently deeper over there. I found a spot between a couple of very large and well established silver birch trees. Casting is awkward from there with a 13ft rod, even from the seated position and me and the tree Gods have never seen eye-to-eye about the sacrifice of tackle. Nevertheless, I set about plumbing the depth and yes it is a bit deeper at this end but not by very much. For a few hours I had the top of the lake to myself and set about fishing for whatever came along. The first fish to come and say hello was a small rudd. There are lots of rudd around and they are a sucker for a single maggot or caster.

First fish of the day
There was a lot of tow in the lake and there was a fairly strong breeze for the first few hours. Out with the long wagglers. This did slow the drift down a bit but it is not ideal. The bait must have been just trailing/dragging along behind probably spooking more fish than it was attracting. The fish were not really interested in the bottom as fish were topping all over the place. Hmmm... My 'going light' plan is proving to be a pain. Where I would usually have a van full of gear to fall back on I was completely under-gunned. If I had put some extra bait in I could have stripped the end tackle and just free-lined a floating bait but that was not an option. This lack of tackle was made even more apparent when Doug, who was fishing down the bank, called me over to show me the fish he had just hooked off the surface using nothing more than a hook and dog biscuits. I rushed over to where he was fishing to see what turned out to be a carp of about 10lb.

Doug with the carp off the top I sent down to him...
Back at the birches, I continued to fish varying the depth trying to find some fish. I found all sorts of silvers including some more rudd, roach and a few skimmers but no carp. I was happy, at least I was catching fish.

Look I caught a fish bigger than Doug's - at least in the picture!
Just as I was settling down to catching a few more Doug was into another carp. This one was Bigger than the last and was giving his landing net a bit of a work out. This one Doug reckoned was about 14lb.

An even bigger carp chewing Doug's thumb
The fish were sitting there right in front of Doug not really interested in his free offerings or the hook bait. I suspect the ones that got caught were more annoyed with the bait than hungry for it.

Buy now, it was starting to feel far too hot. It was now pushing towards the low 30s (centigrade) and beginning to get uncomfortable. I was determined to catch a bigger fish so I stripped down the tackle from my float rod and rigged it with a method feeder. Groundbait (my own Surf 'n' Turf) on the feeder with a 8mm pellet on a banded hair. Using my tried and tested method of finding a spot, clipping up and hitting the same spot with about three loaded feeders seemed to do the trick. The next cast produced an F1 within a few seconds. The feeder really does work well here.

The sun was high in the sky and the shadows from the net add strange 'markings' to this very nice looking F1
That was it. Time to head home, it is far too hot here today for a long session, besides I will be out again on Saturday. Another great day at ORF and a very enjoyable one too. I may not have caught as big a fish as Doug, but it was a great day made even better by meeting the man himself.

Heading home, just one more cast... I just noticed my van is the same colour as the Port-a-loo, must make sure I get in the right one!
One advantage of going light is that I could collect everything together and do just one trip to the van and being at ORF means I will be home in less than 20 minutes. I will be back soon with some heavier gear and a tub of Chum Mixers...