17 April 2012

Ineptitude saves the day

The increasingly common practice of stocking chub and barbel in lakes, ponds and other still waters presents me, and I suspect many other anglers, with an interesting dilemma.

Most anglers naturally want to catch the best of what's in the water in front of them. But many also feel instinctively that these two species belong in the river not the lake.

So the dilemma arises when you're sat on a lake which is well stocked with one or both of the species. Do you want to catch them at all? Are you a purist or a pragmatist (especially at this time of year when the rivers are closed to anglers anyway). And how would you feel if your personal best for both species were recorded on artificially stocked lakes?

The views I have read and heard vary wildly, but in one sense it's easier for me as a relative novice. I've not got a single barbel nor a single decent (over one pound) chub to my name, and I don't particularly want to break either milestone on a lake. It's just not the way I've dreamed about these things happening.

All of which means that you could argue it was good news on Friday when I lost my one decent fish of the day, a fairly chunky chub. Not that it felt like that at the time of course...

I was fishing with my Manchester-based brother in Partridge Lakes, a sophisticated commercial operation not far from the M60. In fact when we first arrived we were worried by how commercial it was - the tightly-packed mosaic of tiny lakes was unlike anything I'd ever seen before and certainly not my cup of tea, being clearly designed around the needs of match, not pleasure, anglers.

Fortunately a short walk revealed the two Holbar lakes which were much more to our taste - bigger, better spaced pegs, more natural surroundings and stocked with a good balance of carp and silvers - including those chub.

Plenty of these lovely roach -
fortunately(?!) the big chub got away
It looked ideal, so we set down side by side and started to fish, initially both with a feeder hard to the bank of the island opposite. But although the guy to the right of us was steadily emptying the lake doing exactly the same, we were both struggling. After an hour with only a skimmer to my name, I switched to a waggler and caster attack mid water and things started to pick up. First a half-pound roach, then another. A couple more skimmers, and couple more roach, and then bang - I bent into something considerably more hefty.

Sadly my brain didn't move as fast as the fish did. As it stripped line from the clutch my brain was saying 'carp' - so once I had that first run under control I anticipated a steady enough fight in open water (albeit a careful one, since I was on a size 20 hook and 2.5lb hook length).

I swear I looked away only long enough to locate my landing net - but by the time I looked back it was to see what appeared to be a decent chub doing exactly what chub do - diving into the reeds to my left. Attempts to draw it back out left me exactly where I thought they would - with a broken hook length, an empty net and a glum expression.

At least the weather held for us and we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon, with the best fish, a decent enough F1 carp, going to my brother.

And at least my dream of a river, not stillwater, chub breakthrough remains intact. Hoo-bloody-ray ;-)


Jeff Hatt said...

Now, there's a dilemma...

I've caught three chub from still-waters, both commercials. The first was a beautiful fish, really very striking with its bronze scales and dark brown back, caught in clear water, the next two were the most insipid looking creatures I have ever seen, caught from a muddy overstocked carp reservoir.

Neither should have been where they were...

Now, what about canals eh? I have yet to catch a chub from one, but I want to, because I see canals as wild fisheries even though they were once man-made Should these river fish be there? Well yes indeed, Canals are fed by rivers, so there's a direct link. Can't very well keep them out. There's barbel in them, dace too, and probably grayling and trout somewhere.

One day, when all the thirst for commercials and the easy pickings they seem to offer is long gone, the fish they contain will be wild and the places neglected and forgotten.

Every lovely farm pond and ravishing old gravel pit was once 'a hole in the ground' and I don't think the fish mind one way or the other, so long as there's everything they need.

I think we do though!

Hornet said...

That's the real point isn't it Jeff - it's how we FEEL about it that seems to matter, since LOGIC dictates that virtually all still water has been artificially stocked at some time or other.

Canals are an interesting case in point - a hybrid situation where you have manmade waterways, partly stocked by nature and partly by man.

Similarly, some commercials are clearly more commercial than others - newly dug match complexes vs older more 'natural' waters which have been adapted for commercial fishing later in life, often with very different stocking levels.

Your experience with the chub indicates that some 'fish in the wrong place' experiences just feel better than others.

And for me, chub seem less of dilemma than barbel, but I can't quite put my finger on why. It's that feel thing again...