Saturday, 11 October 2014

"A quiet week on the canal ..."

The American author Garrison Keillor begins all of his Lake Woebegone stories with the same sentence: "It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone." I could say similar of my week on the canal. This week saw me fish two short sessions, both of which brought me blanks. The first was a snatched after-school session with both of my kids, the second was a before work session with Pete, in which he chastened me by catching perch and pike when all I could muster was one solitary follow from a semi-interested perch. I did, however, in the session with my kids take my first ever "selfie" (is it still a "selfie" if there are two other people in the shot?), so was able to offset the disappointment at blanking by taking another hesitant step into the 21st Century!
The after-school blank wasn't too perturbing. We'd only had an hour, the canal was extremely coloured and we'd had some fun fishing rather casually. Friday was a different affair altogether, and has left my post-session analytic brain reeling in overdrive and full of "why?" and "what if?" and "what next?" questions.
Pete and I arrived at first light at a new stretch of canal that had just about everything you'd want thrown into a small, compressed space: a lock, a confluence with a stream, a bridge and then a stretch where the canal merged with a section of river which itself contained a weir; happy days!

 It wasn't long before Pete had the first fish, a small perch that grabbed his spinner, the first of half a dozen he caught. However, the fish all came individually rather than the rapid bunches of fish that we're used to, suggesting that we weren't faced with a plentiful and ravenous shoal, but were picking off odd solo travellers or that they weren't that bothered about feeding. I started off with pike as my target, so concentrated on larger lures, before changing to spinners, but despite throwing a wide variety of lures at the canal, I only managed to induce one abortive follow from a modestly sized perch.

With about 10 minutes left  before the agreed time for packing up we agreed to spend the last few casts on the river, which was wide (in relative terms), slow flowing and full of dense beds of "cabbages". "It looks good for pike" I said, prophetically. I clipped on a Big S, hoping that its seductive wiggle in the shallow water over the weedbeds would evoke a response, but it was Pete's Ondex that was grabbed by an aggressive pike. After a brief fight and a lot of water being thrown into the air, the fish, which was probably pushing close to double figures, was netted, unhooked, admired and photographed.
"Well done, Pete" I said, and although the words were uttered through gritted teeth, I did mean it.


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