Euro Fishing: Clint Walker - Tough Times Continue
My tough streak continues… I’m on a new water this year, one I’ve fished only once previously, over 30 years ago, so I’m calling it ‘new’. It’s not a big water at around four and half acres, but Hales Hall seems to have a reputation as a tricky, spring fed lake, which can be moody too… just what I needed!
I visited first after a sheet of ice had covered the water for the preceding couple of days, in search of pike. I had almost no information about the water, so was going in ‘blind’, but having walked the lake and disturbed a predator in deeper water, I headed for the dam, and set up in a comfortable peg. A legered lamprey, and a floatfished smelt were quickly despatched out into the lake as I set about searching the water in front of me ‘fan style’ to try and cover it all throughout the session. After changing baits, and recasting until the whole area had been searched, my session resolved nothing. I hadn’t had so much as a bleep, or wobble of any of my indicators, I’d not seen a fish, and therefore had gained very little from my visit; not the ideal start, surely my next session would be better?
A few days later, and I returned, this time with the intention of fishing a boilie and pellet attack, to try and tempt either a carp, or one of the hefty bream. On my first rod, a small Spotted Fin Pink Catalyst pop up was attached to a Ronnie rig, a tiny bag of red halibut pellets attached, and it was flung out towards a floating island. The second rig was nothing more complicated than a Method feeder, clad in Spotted Fin groundbait, and primed with an 8mm wafter, which was also cast in front of me. Within a minute, I heard “Molly!” shouted, and turned to see a large collie barrelling towards me, skidding to a halt at my groundbait bowl, which it shoved its head into hungrily, before wolfing down a few mouthfuls, and then kicking the bowl in to the lake! Not content with robbing me of my feed, it then bounced around the swim, kicked over my rods and pod, before leaping into the water in front of me to splash about and then paddle out into my peg! Needless to say, the venue has a ‘dogs on leads’ rule, so I expressed my displeasure to the owner (putting it mildly) before the itinerant hound was tethered and removed… not a great start!
An hour in, and a screaming take indicated interest, and as I picked up the rod, a swift, single thump at the other end told me that the highly visible pink pop up had been the first to go. Unfortunately, this particular fish had feathers…and a beak. I still find it difficult to believe just how far a tufted duck can travel underwater, and I hadn’t seen this one coming, before it picked up the bait to trigger my receiver. It popped out of the water like a surfacing sub, dropping the bait, but leaving the rig in a mess… I hate tufties!
After three hours of silence, much of which I’d spent watching the angler on the far bank as he fished for bream, my other alarm sounded. Glancing back at the area in which my bait lay, I saw a coot surface, before skittering across the water as my line followed it! I couldn’t believe this! The bait snatcher kited to my right before enmeshing my line in a dead reedbed, where it became fast. The offender had managed to drop the bait, and scarpered back out in to the lake where it sat spitting at me. I had no option other than to go and get the line, to avoid leaving yards of mono, but oh my, that water looked cold! Laying the rod down with the bail arm open, I grabbed my net pole, took a very sharp intake of breath, and plunged through the reeds… Thankfully, the reed bed wasn’t too deep, but the water was, and it filled my boots with freezing, murky slime as I reached the feeder where I was able to release it. Once again, the avian culprit escaped unharmed, but by now, I’d had enough. My baits were obviously visible to the waterfowl, and I wasn’t going to risk another event, so I packed up…another blank, and my feet were aching with cold…
Today, I’ve been back again. This time armed with a quivertip rod, maggots, and groundbait, as I tried another tactic to elicit some interest. This time, a feeder full of krill groundbait was clipped up at forty odd yards, and a series of quick casts got a bit of bait down ready for the forthcoming session. I attached a hooklink, added a couple of gentiles, cocked my arm back, and promptly clipped the branches of an overhead tree, ripping the bait off the hook, and tumbling the feeder into the water about five yards in front of me… Ahhh! I readjusted, and eventually got a bait in the water, tightened a small curve in the ‘tip, and sat back to wait… and wait… and wait…this place seems able to bring out the worst in me…
For four hours, that ‘tip didn’t even tremble once. I recast religiously every twenty minutes, and twitched the bait back every ten, to keep bait going in hoping that bream would move into the swim, but it didn’t appear to have any effect at all. A gentleman stopped to chat, and as we conversed, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the ‘tip flinch; just an inch, but it definitely moved! I waited for the bite to develop, but that inch was it… it didn’t move again.
I reloaded the feeder, and recast, being careful to avoid the tree, and sat back despondently. Within five minutes, another tiny tremble was noted, but once again, no bite. I changed my hook link, changed the hook, changed the bait, changed the feeder, but still couldn’t get a proper bite. In my defence, no—one else had had a bite either, so you can imagine my delight when the ‘tip moved around slightly, and stayed there! It was enough to tempt me to strike, and as I swept the rod aloft, I felt solid resistance, and this was definitely a fish!
My prize seemed to surrender immediately, and was easily recovered towards me. A flash of silver confused me, as did the powerful run immediately after my first glimpse; this wasn’t the bream I’d hoped for, but instead a toothy pike. I have no idea how a pike picks up two maggots on a size 18 hook to 3lb line, I imagine it must look like a crocodile trying to pick up a single chicken nugget off a shiny table using only its teeth, but I did wonder if that was what the initial movements of the ‘tip had been. As the pike approached the net, I could see the hook barely nicked into the outside of the jaw, and as it crossed the threshold, it bit through the line, firing the feeder over my shoulder, just missing my head! No matter; luckily it was enveloped in the net, and a pristine fish of around 5lb gave me my first piscine result from the venue.
So, three visits, no proper bites, two birds, and only a single, fluked fish. It’s not much of a return so far, but I have much to learn, and fortunately, plenty of time to do it. I’d far rather try and crack a tough nut like this one, than go and fish a commercial venue, packed with fish, that require much less effort to catch, so I’ll keep trying… after all, that’s why we keep going back isn’t it? Wish me luck...