19 February 2012

How it all began...

Hmmm, this was the 'review of 2011 / how I started fishing again' post which I was drafting in December. I've completed and posted it now because a) this is my personal as well as public diary and these details fill a rather large number of gaps in the narrative and b) I hate wasting any work that I've already done. So...

The combination of a busy schedule at work, an allotment that needs putting 'to bed' for the winter, and the various demands of the festive season mean that I am unlikely to be wetting a line again until after Christmas :-(

But at least this unwelcome interruption to normal service gives me a little time to reflect on 12 months of fairly hectic fishing - 12 months in which I came back to the sport having spent many, many years away, and, for the most part, fished like it :-)

It all started as a wheeze for my 40th birthday present. Why don't I get my brother and dad, accomplished anglers both, to take myself and close friend on a fishing trip which would reacquaint me with a long-lost passion and introduce my fly-fishing chum to the joys of coarse fishing. My brother chose Bury Hills Fishery in Surrey, I was quickly into two early morning carp, and that was it - I was hooked (in fact all three of us scored that day, holding our fish top to bottom are brother Paul, Rich and my own good self).

I was on the internet as soon as I returned home, and the first local fishery I found quickly became a firm favourite - Bishops Bowl in Bishops Itchington. Despite still being a little unsure of what I was doing, my first morning on Walworth Lake in mid September saw my float dip with great regularity as my first ever tench (pictured below) was quickly joined by more, plus my first ever crucian and plenty of tenacious little carp.

Last winter's weather may have been the worse for more than 100 years but there was no one more enthusiastic than me at that point, so I persevered through it all, never once blanking, always learning something new and still landing the occasional decent fish (including a couple of 1lb plus roach and some pretty good crucians for example).

I was also reading voraciously - everything from the latest magazine articles to the classic books on how to coarse fishing from my childhood. The former could tell me what the hell the 'method' was, the latter still had plenty of relevance when it came to the timeless arts of float fishing, watercraft and more.

My first fish 'flying solo'
- beginner's luck?
I knew winter was properly over when the tench started feeding again at Bishops. The most memorable of the early spring trips that followed was again with my brother. Because he hadn't put any tench on the bank for a while he drove down for an evening session, and despite the fishing being a little slower than I'd expected, he used every bit of his vast fishing experience to bring some lovely fish to the net, giving me a real masterclass in margin fishing.

A margin masterclass from little bro...
 Once summer arrived I was keen to get into some slightly bigger fish, but not necessarily the 20lb plus carp in the two main Bishops' lakes. A bit more research suggested that Stockton Reservoir might be the answer. This British Waterways owned water was well stocked with carp about a decade ago, and now reports suggested that the average stamp of fish was 5 to 12 lbs - the perfect way for me to extend my education and put a more substantial bend in some of my fast growing collection of rods!

And so it proved, as on my third trip I managed to bank a double figure fish - a 10lb 5oz mirror carp taken on a method feeder, if memory serves.

A week after that I ambushed an even bigger common carp with a float fished lump of luncheon meat in the margins - 11lbs 4oz of very angry fish that will stay long in my memory (it was like trying to coax a submarine up from the depths on not-overly-hefty tackle).

Yours truly with
11lb 4oz of margin-caught
common carp
And there you have it - a potted history of my 2010 / 2011 reintroduction to fishing, albeit posted about eight weeks after I wrote it. It was shortly after I landed that personal best carp that I switched to river fishing for the winter, the results of which I have already documented in previous posts. 
In another five weeks or so the river season draws to a close and I will be back on the lakes and reservoirs, and while I'll miss the Leam and the Avon, going over this old ground has at least reminded me that there's good fish to be had in the still waters round here. 
After a few weeks of scrapping for 'bits' on the rivers, it will at least be good to put a bend in the rod and a few decent lumps on the bank!

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