Friday 16 May 2014

Sunburned Glory

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This latest blog instalment comes with a slight health warning. This might be England and it might be decidedly cold when you load the car at 5 in the morning. But that's no excuse not to pack some sun screen. It's a lesson I learned the hard way as I was slowly toasted.
A session at Linhay Pond, on the Rackerhayes complex, began in idyllic style however. Cool mist and the odd rolling fish. It wasn't so much the sun, but the great depths of the lake that I had anticipated being the crux of the challenge.
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The pole is one obvious way, but for me it was an excellent excuse to dig out the 15ft Hardy Marksman float rod- a great weapon where the bottom plummets away alarmingly quickly. I was joined by Russ Hilton, who reckoned the tench would be patrolling just where the weed stopped and the margin dropped to a good 8-10 feet. And as tends to be the case, the bugger was correct! I put in four balls of ground bait laced with chopped worm and caster and it didn't take long for the wrestling to begin:
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Sport wasn't exactly rapid, but bloody hell do tench fight well. And in the gaps, Russ also caught plenty on the whip, while I slowly got frazzled. I could have posted up a picture of my sorry, red, sweaty shoulders, but instead here's a random photo of a bee:
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Was it worth it all in the end? I'm tempted to say yes, because the tench were beautiful. Not small by Devon standards either. Perhaps the whole tench fishing scene has been crashed by fat gravel pit fish that grow enormous- but in the Westcountry, a fish of six pounds is still pretty respectable, not to mention beautiful. This was the best of three:
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The session was very much a case of quality rather than quantity. Would we have got more bites fishing lighter? I can't say, but with hooklengths of 5-6lbs, you're much safer. A size 16 hook and a worm and caster cocktail was by far the best bait on the day.
The idea was that I was to return home looking like a Greek. The reality was more like a lobster. Joking aside, do be warned- the sun is no laughing matter and when you're enjoying your fishing it's incredibly easy to forget about protection.
My next trip by waters was without the rod, but this time with plenty of sun block. I had a wonderful walk with Paulina to Ladram Bay in fact, where I took the picture below. It was a really lovely scene: the youngster and his dad approached the old angler and no doubt he was asked all those sorts of questions that six year olds are so excellent at randomly coming up with:
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I'm also in the process of answering some of met own questions with the arrival of a rather novel book this week from my good friend the angler and conservationist Theo Pike. "The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing and How to Tackle Other Non-native Species" is a fascinating if alarming read. Documenting all manner of undesirables from mink and crayfish to horrible, alien plants this pocket sized guide makes eye-opening reading. Most importantly of all though, it also explains how you can do your bit to stem the tide of these unwanted blighters, whether that means reporting, cutting down or even dispatching with boot or bullet. Perhaps those which I particularly hate the most are Himalayan Balsam (which is everywhere these days) and the dreaded mink (the main reason I haven't seen a water vole for over a decade). I took the shot below as a bit of a joke- but the issue of invasive species is very serious. The most important weapon is not a gun, but knowledge, which is why Theo's book could be extremely important.
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