Sunday, 24 February 2019

Yes, I made it to the bank...

…but it nearly didn’t happen!

My fishing adventures have been somewhat curtailed over the past year for all sorts of reasons. Health issues, the hot weather and an ongoing house move, have all contributed individually or in combination to thwart any plans I had of spending a day at the bank. I did make it a couple of times in November, but other than that, the only outings were to mine or the other bloke's local river, since July. As it turned out, I ended up fishing the same water I had fished in July. This time the conditions were very different.

Over the past week, the weather down here in London has been balmy. Temperatures have been in the high teens with low, but bright sunshine. The lighter nights and dry (ish) weather have added to the illusion of a spring day in February. All this beautiful weather, combined with a convenient gap in our altogether chock-a-block calendar, gave the perfect opportunity to take a day out fishing.

That was the middle of the week, and by Friday I had gathered together some tackle, purchased a pint of maggots and was ready for an early start on Saturday. That was until I realised my mobile phone had gone flat. I plugged it in to charge and forgot about it until early evening. As I was gathering my last minute bits together, I noticed a message from the estate agent selling our house. It merely asked me to call him back. The trouble was it was now too late. I thought about calling him from the bank, assuming I could get a signal, but in the end, I decided to put the fishing on hold.

Saturday morning came, and on the dot of 09:00, I called the agent only to discover that the guy who called was not in until Monday! By 10:00 I had managed to get hold of his colleague, who said he just intended to keep me up to date and there was nothing that needed attention urgently. I know if I had just gone fishing, it would have been a different story. Now, somewhat deflated, I pondered what to do. In the end, I decided to go anyway. I loaded the van and was on the road by 10:10.

I had pondered where to go, but anywhere is a decent drive from here. I stuck to my original plan and set off for Beaver, yes I know, same old story, but I know I will find some fish there.

On leaving the end of my road, I joined a queue of traffic on the South Circular, it was stationary. This part of this very busy road is only two-lane, one in each direction. There is no choice but to sit in the queue and wait. A mile or so further on, the reason for the hold-up was revealed as the police had closed a section of the road (in both directions) diverting the traffic to the left and right, just before the road passes under the railway. It is a fair distance to get to the next crossing point. As these crossing places are a bottleneck, at the best of times, the back-doubles soon became gridlocked. An hour after leaving home I was just about to cross the railway half a mile away from the closure.
I eventually got onto the M25 and sailed the few miles to the A22, the road that winds its way through Surrey and, in due course, past Beaver. Usually, this is not a bad road, except on a Thursday morning when the refuge trucks are out. This particular morning the traffic was thick and more clutch-pumping made for a further tedious delay.

Getting on for two hours after leaving home I drove through the fishery gates.
At this time of year, the gates close at 18:00, so I had barely five hours to fish, after allowing for time to set and pack away, leaving enough time get out of the gate before it closed - automatically.   

Eden Pond - The very sparse vegetation, at this time of year, gives it a very open look
I had thought I would try Maze Lake again, as it has been netted over the winter and a lot of work done on it last summer to fill in some of the redundant water. Talking to Andy, the bailiff, it sounded as that was not a good idea at the moment as no one had been successful on there over the past week or so. Instead, it was suggested that I try Eden Pond, as I was only looking for a few hours of float/short-pole fishing. This I did.

On arrival, I found one other person fishing the lake. He had been there all morning and caught nothing… Not what I wanted to hear. Nevertheless, I set up my minimal kit comprising of a chair, small divvy table (for bait), unhooking mat, net etc. and one of my cheap 5m tele-poles. A light rig using 4lb line and a 3lb hook length to a size 18 hook, suspended under a small rugby-ball shaped, 0.1g pole float. I started off at dead depth with a single maggot.

My first fish of the session, and the year!
I had been feeding a swim close to an outcrop of reeds while I was tackling up. I put the float in and let the bait settle. A gentle lift every now and then did nothing to encourage a feeling of optimism. It had been months since my last trip out fishing way back in early November. I had blanked that day, other than an unfortunate Signal Crayfish. I added a couple of inches to the depth, so the bait would be sitting on the bottom, and put in again with the same bait. Within seconds it was fish on, and I had caught my first fish of the day, and of this year!

A nice roach. Okay, not the biggest specimen in the lake, but not the smallest either. Feeing a few loose maggots every five minutes or so seemed to keep the swim alive. I was catching a good number of roach, all about the same size. I was happy, and the other guy on the lake was still not catching anything. I asked if he would like some maggot and he said he would. I gave him a couple of handfuls and went back to my fishing.

Changing the bait for one red and one white maggot, lead to me landing a nice little perch about the same size as the roach. This little fellow looked as if he had been in the wars, as most of his dorsal fin was missing. I did not photograph him and sent him on his way without putting him through any further stress.

I sat there fishing the small pole for a few hours, soaking up the sunshine that was making for an enjoyable day. Fish were coming at a rate fast enough to make it enjoyable, without being too easy. Subtle changes to depth and bait gave varying results. I was catching, and that was good. At least it was for me. I have learnt that light tackle, at this time of year, seems to be the way to go. Not too light though, as there are a few bigger fish in here.
I caught lots of roach, all about the same size
The elderly chap (yes he was older than me!) took great pains to tell me how long he had been fishing (all his life) and that there were no fish feeding in the lake (pond?) today. He could not understand it. After I had started catching continuously, he decided to pack up and go. He had been fishing using heavy line and a long waggler float that was sticking out of the water by about eight inches. I am not even sure he had plumbed the depth. His tactic was to throw in handfuls of soggy groundbait, that hit the water like a rock, all over the swim. After he had gone, I rigged a rod and lobbed a float out over where he had been fishing and caught a small bream on the first cast. Maybe I am learning something. I was fun to actually find and catch a few fish.

The small bream (large skimmer?) 'nicked' from the other guys swim after he left
Although only a short session, it was fun to get out and as I was so late getting started, I got a half-day ticket which was even better! It was only a few hours, but I enjoyed every moment, and I am so pleased I did not give up the fight to get here, as I was tempted to do when I got caught in all that traffic. The saving grace was the journey home was a good one, and I was home in a fraction of the time it took me to get there.