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Clint Walker - Rainy Day of Fishing
I’ve been back to Rode Pool again this week, a jewel on the card of Stoke-on-Trent Angling Society, to continue my pursuit of carp from this tricky mere. A cold wind had sprung up overnight, a chill breeze from the east, whipping across the lake in the opposite direction to the usual prevailing winds, and I opted to set up on the back of it, hoping that the fish would be huddled in slightly warmer, calmer water at the top of the lake. Once again, I chose to fish with tiny pva bags and popped up baits, but instead of the boilies I’d used last week, this time I tied up walnut sized bags of Spotted Fin particle mix, added my hook baits, and fired both out to the edge of marginal reed cover on the far bank. On the first, an 8mm wafter was pinched into a bait band against the hook, on the other, a 15mm Smokey Jack pop up was attached to the rig ring, and both were quickly settled, lines sunk, and rods placed gently on the rests as I sat back to listen to the woods wake up… I enjoy sitting in the woods at Rode Pool. Cushioned from any traffic noise by ancient oak trees which provide a shady canopy, the bankside cover always has something to see, and the water is home to a multitude of waterfowl. I love to watch flitting visitors that I rarely see elsewhere, little egret and oystercatchers amongst them, and it really is a place to just sink in, relax, and enjoy fishing purely for its own sake. Even with other anglers on the bank, I can still find solitude amongst beautiful surroundings, and despite it’s tricky reputation, I still keep coming back! For the first time this year, I noted swifts and swallows skipping across the surface, snatching midges, indicating a possible recent bloodworm hatch. Rode has vast beds of bloodworm, on which I suspect that resident fish can become preoccupied, so I made sure my baits were in the midst of them! Despite my considerations and deductions, nothing happened all day. I had no indications, no bites, and saw no fish. I’d obviously got my tactics completely wrong, and having heard that at least four tench had been caught in the teeth of the wind much further down the lake, I can only write it up my notes, learn from it, and try not to make the same mistake again… A day later, and I sat in the car park at a different club lake, and watched the rain hammer the windscreen as I sat huddled over the heater. It was cold again, a sudden downturn in overnight temperatures had seen another weather system passing over the UK, and I really gave serious thought to turning around, going home, and climbing back into bed! Rain was forecast for much of the day, meaning I’d have to set up, and pack away in it… not something I ever enjoy. My phone bleeped. A message from fishing chum Andy confirming that he was still on his way. That decided it, I was going to have to get out into the rain and get sorted. At the back of the van, I stepped out of my trainers, slid my leg into my salopettes, and reached for my boots. I stumbled (I’ve never been very well balanced) and my besocked foot landed squarely in a large, muddy puddle. A great start which certainly didn’t improve my mood! However, barrow loaded, I squelched off to find my peg, and after walking a few hundred yards in the teeming downpour, pitched up beside an area of bushes which would at least give some modicum of shelter. Only one rod is allowed here, so it was quickly pieced together, the same rig left on from the previous day, which was rebaited with a fresh Smokey Jack pop up, re-armed with a tiny bag of matching pellets, and fired out to where I’d seen fish rising. The brolly was up and pegged down, and I sat miserably beneath it as the rain dripped onto my boots, and I waited for the first action of the day. I was the only angler on the bank, and I watched carp sipping at midges on the surface, smashed out of the air by raindrops, as yet more swifts and swallows darted speedily over the water enjoying a feast of flies. Andy arrived with his young son Liam, and they set up in their favourite peg next to me, quickly hiding under a canopy of nylon as the rain continued. Other anglers ventured onto the far bank, which made seven of us on the water, then another further up ‘our’ bank, and a further hardy soul in the distance made nine; all looking dejected, and after a few hours, all of us biteless. I’d had a single line bite, but nothing else, Andy and Liam’s alarms were silent, and we hadn’t seen anyone catch on the far side either, so it became obvious that it was going to be a struggle all day… Eventually, a twitchy run had me by the rod, and although the alarm had stopped, the rod tip continued to flex, so I picked it up and connected with the first fish of the day. After a few minutes, a lean double figure common lay in the folds of the net. It was quickly unhooked, treated, photographed and returned, and then the bait repositioned, before I sent the picture to the swim next door to gloat… Hours passed, and nothing else had happened until I noted a gracefully curving rod tip over the brambles between us; Liam was into a fish, and as my bait was currently on the bank being changed, I wandered over to see him land a beautifully dark mirror well into double figures. Elsewhere, no-one else had caught anything… Through the binoculars, I saw a bream netted on the far bank as others continued to struggle for bites. I had another tentative run, missed it and recast. A third run saw a low double figure mirror quickly released, a fourth saw me lose a fish, and a fifth resulted in another common on the mat. Andy and Liam hadn’t had anything else, so it looked like I was the only one seeing any results. Earlier, I’d changed my bait, moving from the red of the Smokey Jack to the yellow of the Classic Corn pop up, twinned it with a bag of Catalyst pellets, sprayed it with pineapple and N-Butyric booster, and also increased the length of my fluorocarbon hook link to move things away from the lead, which I was convinced they could see in the clear water. It looked like it was paying off… Andy and Liam departed, as did all but one angler on the far bank. My chums had seen no more fish, and I was just having ‘one last cast’ before disappearing myself. As Andy opened the gate to the car park, I had a further fish, another double figure mirror bringing my tally to four and two missed, before I too packed up in the rain and set off for the warmth of the van. Only two other carp came out, both after I’d gone home, so overall, I was pleased with my haul during miserable conditions. Little changes had made a big difference; both Andy and I know the water well, and often fish similar tactics, but on the day, it just wasn’t working, so I’m glad I tweaked things to keep the fish guessing. Next week, the forecast promises Mediterranean sunshine, so no doubt the behaviour of the fish will change again, but I know that at some point, I’ll be stealthily ensconced beneath those ancient oaks, hoping for an elusive Rode Pool carp, and I’ll have another session too somewhere else, just to keep me interested. Hopefully, summer is now well on the way, and before long, the floater kit can come out, but until then, I’ll dry off my sodden socks, shake out the brolly, and keep plugging away whatever the weather! []
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