Saturday 27th March. College Pool - Sean & Brian. 9am to 4-30pm.
Occasionally during an angling year, you get sessions where things go perfectly to plan. Fish that were seemingly uncatchable on previous visits become hell bent on eating anything you put in front of them. More importantly, it's even the right species of fish that's playing ball - the one you set out to catch. These sessions are all too few and far between but every now and again your turn comes around.
For once I'd done a bit of thinking the night before - it's amazing how seriously you can start to take a challenge when there's a curry at stake. Food is a great motivator! I figured that the only species in College Pool that could set a stiff target for the rest of the year were the Bream, Barbel and Perch. I haven't really had any luck in the past with the larger of the resident Barbel or Perch, so the Bream were to be the target.
The pool was empty when we got there, which was a nice surprise. Maybe everyone had headed to Jubilee for their opening day - fine by us if they had. I arrived at the peg and the first job was to mix up the groundbait. I mixed up about a bag of some exotic sounding groundbait and added in some hemp and caster. In went about 8 "cricket balls" into an area about the size of a dinner table a couple of rod lengths out into 17ft of water.
This is the point in the day where I did make a screw up though. I had only brought one float rod with me - the trusty 15/17 ft rod. I knew that the area I'd baited was a little too deep to fish the float in a semi conventional manner. If I'm fishing close in here I often fish it stick float style using the 17ft option and back shot it to sink the line. That's OK in up to about 15 ft of water, but it gets awkward beyond that.
I opted to fish the slider instead using the 15ft option. It was also a chance to test out a home made waggler I'd made during the week. I set up the slider rig perfectly and went to cast out but the stop knot jammed in the rod rings. Looking closer at the rod now, I realised that it just wasn't cut out for the slider, as some of the rings were just a bit too small and prone to jamming.
Lesson learned though and it was back to square one and out came the 2ft extension. The only problem is that it has a ring in the middle of the section, so it really was back to square one. Although I felt stupid for wasting so much time, I wasn't overly bothered because I was expecting it to take a while for fish to settle over the groundbait - that's if they were going to settle!
As there was no wind to contend with, I set up a float rig stick float style and left out the backshot so that I could fish at full depth reasonably comfortably. After 15 minutes of inactivity, I took the chance to set up the feeder rod, but as I'd introduced a load of bait already, I opted to set it up with a small lead. I also rigged up the bite alarm so that I could continue to stare out the float that refused to budge.
Meanwhile on the next peg Brian hadn't had anything yet. He'd gone for two feeder rigs - one for pellet and one for maggot. He'd fed in some floating bread and a Carp or two were beginning to take an interest towards the end of the pool. He went for a walk to check it out, with a view to winkling one of them out later on.
As so often seems to be the case, the message seems to get back to the fish - Brian has left his peg and that's the all clear for the fish to move in. One of his rods crashed to the ground and I looked over to his peg. I wasn't sure if it had simply just slipped off a rest of whether there was a fish on, but I rushed over to check it out. Sure enough, a fish was on and I started to play it before handing over to Brian.
He got it under control fairly quickly and landed the first Carp of the season - a Mirror of 4lb 15oz. A new species and a bonus point on the board, although I'm sure there should be a rule for sharing points in the event of a joint effort!
A few minutes later it was my turn to get in on the action. The alarm went off and I connected with a fish that gave a distinctive lazy thud. It was a Bream and a decent one to start with of 5lb 8oz. 2 points back in my court for that one, to even the honours on the day.
Things went quiet for a while after that and I was left cursing a missed bite about an hour later. There was no need to worry though as a succession of fish then obliged at regular intervals for the rest of the day. I ended up with 8 Bream - all of them taken on the feeder rig. The roll of honour reads 3lb 9oz, 4lb 2oz, 4lb 8oz, 4lb 9oz, 4lb 13oz, 5lb 1oz, 5lb 8oz, 6lb 5oz. The latter is a personal best for me.
6lb 5oz Bream
Although a very pleasing session, it doesn't quite match one I had there last year when I banked 12 bream for approximately 60lb. Oddly though these are the only 2 sessions I have managed to catch a Bream on the pool - very much all or nothing for me!
Brian didn't manage to add to his tally, although I think he spent about half the time sleeping. At one point I even fired a rolled up piece of bread with my catapult and hit him perfectly on his back. He didn't even stir!
He did have a go at the Carp feeding on the surface when the sun came out for a while. I think he's been watching too many of theose Matt Hayes programmes though, as he seemed to be engaging in a bit of jungle warfare to get into position.
As is often the case, sod's law comes into play. If there are 2 similar looking pieces of bread to be had, the Carp will uncannily slurp down the one without the hook. If there are 3 pieces of bread, it will slurp down the 2 without the hook. And so on... That was pretty much the case here, as I heard a few moans and groans that the Carp were extracting the urine. There'll be plenty of chances to make amends though.