I'm a big believer in luck when it comes to fishing. Skills learned through time on the bank, along with carefully executed plans and listening to those in the know, will clearly go a long way. But sometimes a slice of luck and even pure fate, can provide that little edge. Or it is just down to the more you fish, the luckier you get?!
For two weekday sessions I headed off to the Anker. In my limited experience of this waterway, I've found it to be a moody and frustrating customer. It holds some really good fish, but extracting them is rarely a cakewalk. All luck is welcome.
The river was fining down after a big rise in level the previous week. It was also chucking down, which is largely why I chose this river in the first place. I can park almost on my peg, which was a lot more appealing than a long trudge in the rain on the Avon.
The day was a complete frustration and fish were scarce. I'd banged the bait in early to see if I could draw in the target species - bream, tench or carp. Well into the day all I had to show for my efforts were a couple of perch - the best 1lb 6oz. I did lose a bigger perch though.
I was fishing two different rigs. One for a heavier attack with bookies or pellets, while the other was a float rig more geared for bream.
This is where my luck ran out. Twice I managed to hook decent carp on the float rig, but it turned out they were actually foul hooked. Frustratingly they didn't take the intended bait in the standard manner. I was left with a souvenir each time, although I never saw either fish.
Defeated, I called it a day and returned a day later for a short session to settle the score. With carp showing their hand the previous day and knowing that I'd put bait in, it was an obvious choice to pick the same swim.
A cunning plan, albeit scuppered instantly by the only other angler on the stretch having got there first! Pollacks I thought, or something close to that!
So, I headed a few pegs upstream and chanced my arm in a recently renovated peg. I'd have preferred the far end peg, but it was already swallowed up by the now rising water. The peg I settled for had a clear area about 3-4 yards wide, with thick lily beds either side.
With just over 3 hours fishing time available to me, plan A was to bang in about 10 jaffa sized balls of groundbait. Half tight to the left lily bed and half to the right. Then sit and wait patiently for fish to find it. There was no plan B.
Nothing for well over an hour, but out of nowhere intense bubbles began to appear. Fancying something sizeable was now in residence, I retracted the maggot rig and replaced it with a prawn. Straight on the drop I had a take and the rod arched over. Clearly not a carp or tench, due to the pedestrian battle, but a decent slab instead.
When I photograph fish I always try to keep them in the same direction (head to the left). It's nothing superstitious. I just like to be able to recognise any recaptures of previous fish. I occasionally deviate from this if a fish has an ugly side to it. This was one of those scenarios and was done previously to the same fish last year.
A battered, old, half blind, not overly photogenic bream, but I'm not complaining. It was a pb last time I laid hands on it and at 2oz heavier this time, it raises the mark to 7lb 11oz for me. Not quite the 8lb river target I set myself, but pretty close and there's lots of time left. A shade lucky though, as if I'd been the only angler on the section, or if there had been less water on, I wouldn't have fished the peg.
In terms of river targets, I set them out in my last post. The intention is to track them throughout the season as a percentage of target challenge. If I exactly hit a target that's a 100% score. If I exceed a target, I can also bag the extra points (but capped at 125% maximum). With 7 species in the fray, the target score is 700. The current position is:
Barbel (11lb 1oz) - 110.63%
Bream (7lb 11oz) - 96.09%
Perch (1lb 6oz) - 45.83%
Chub (2lb 2oz) - 42.50%
Tench, Carp and Pike - 0%
Total - 295.05
A long way to go and some pb fish required if I'm to hit the 700 by March. To put it into context, I'd have scored just under 500 points based on last season's efforts.