Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Windy Mishaps - Alone in the dark?

Sunday before last was a windy affair but as mild as I have seen it for mid-November, I had a little think about where I wanted to fish and soon decided that I would spend the afternoon roving along one of my favourite little tributaries, a moody little river but it has some lovely fish that reside in it and is full to the brim with features, in fact you could call it a haven for chub, sunken trees draped in flotsam, undercut banks with eddies and riffles all combine to make the perfect Jekyll and Hide waterway, no two trips are ever the same.

Getting down to the river I could see it had a touch of colour to it, just a slight brown tinge but clarity didn't look too bad, I had brought some cheese and krill cheese paste, worms, maggots and bread, the idea being to travel as lightly as possible and see if I could tempt some of the chub and perch.

There was a steady procession of leaves and debris throughout the day and at times it did make presentation a bit of a nightmare. The first few swims showed signs that they had been fished, a tree on the opposite bank had become the final resting place of an alloy stem float, the wind rocking it back and forth rapidly, looking down at the ground I could see the remains of a rather large crayfish that looked as if it had received the foot treatment and possibly by the same angler who had lost their float.

A light feed of maggot was soon introduced and it was not long before a single lob worm was making its way downstream toward a debris strewn branch, almost instantly the diminutive freshwater piranha that is the minnow made itself apparent, the rod tip vibrating in almost a shivering manner that only this species seem capable of conveying.

A couple of pot bellied minnows later and a couple of swims downstream I found myself on a deeper pool, a change to bread was made, almost instantly a lurching bite occurred and a head first dash to cover was made, some side strain was applied to stop it making for the snags, this felt a decent chub, well for all of 20 or so seconds it did and then the hook pulled, I was left feeling a bit short changed and due to how moody this river can be it is often the case of a single bite every so many swims and then move on, given some of the better stamp of chub that are in this waterway I always get a slight sense of foreboding when I lose a better fish.

By late afternoon I had fished my way further downstream with just minnows and the fish which I had lost to the hook pull to show for it, I now found myself lured toward another pool just past one of my favourite shallow gravel runs, the current swirling back upon itself before breaking off into different eddies. A few casts later and I was playing a lively, perfectly formed perch, this was a plump fish, not a huge perch (1.6) but dare I say picture perfect, however clumsiness seemed to be a running theme with this particular trip and I managed to stand on my camera remote, let's just say that it didn't like having 18 stone of weight put on it and that was the end of that, so I had to settle for the cameras inbuilt ten second timer.

I was quite cheered up by this fish, its colouration resplendent and in what looked uncaught condition, although the thoughts of having to replace the camera remote were quite chastening.

By now time was ticking and daylight was starting to fade, I knew further downstream that there were some very good swims that sometimes produced some better chub and I decided that one of these would be my final port of call before heading home, the swim I had in mind had a large tree with its roots protruding out into the margins, plenty of coverage for a skulking chevin or two.

A change to garlic and krill cheese paste was made (think old socks meets fermented shrimp) and after dropping a few tasters in the swim to lure any apprehensive chub out I lowered the bait in front of the roots. Ten minutes later and the quiver nudged faintly but enough to signal that something was rooting about in a rather tentative manner, another couple of light plucks followed by a slightly less edgy tap, I struck and the fish made an instant dash downstream before heading back toward the tree roots, which I must admit took me partly by surprise. After a good scrap a fighting fit chub was in the net, not one of this rivers larger chub, but nonetheless a healthy fish of 4lb.

After this fish it was time to make my way home, it had been quite a challenging day with the wind and debris but enjoyable with a couple of nice fish from this little river, although whilst waiting to be picked up I had ample time to rue the crushed remote.

The following weekend I decided to try a new bit of river, an area that I have not fished as much and planned to target chub. Unfortunately I was not able to get out early, getting down to the riverbank by 3pm and I then decided to fish into evening time hoping the extra hours would give the chance of a few fish from this rather pretty and rural neck of the woods.

Around 6pm and having tried a few sumptuous swims with just one missed bite which was quite a rod tip puller at that, I found myself in a tree lined section with some beautiful undercut banks and debris, the perfect haunt for a chub or two and sure enough it was not long before I was playing a nicely enamelled chub which had fallen to link ledgered lob worm.

A nicely proportioned but very hollow 4.3

Not wishing to spook the swim I decided to go for some Stockholm syndrome and retain this chub in the landing net in hope of picking up some more of its brothers and sisters.

A switch to the blue krill paste (as I'm now calling it) was made and half an hour later I was rewarded with another very golden chub, this one smaller than the last (3.9), things were going swimmingly and I was quite content, it was around this time that I thought it would be nice to set up the camera for a night self take of myself fishing and so set about setting the camera up on the new remote and sat back to fish whilst the shutter slowly clicked away.

Just after a the photo was taken I heard a noise on the opposite bank twice, light movement and then slightly louder, now bare in mind it had been blustery earlier during the trip, but by now the wind had calmed a lot, there was no mist, the sky was cloudy but one of those nights where due to cloud you could make out a small area without using a headlight. I'm not the kind of person to find myself edgy or calling out in earnest, but that is what happened I called across "who's there?", there was a more rapid rustle and movement that faded away, I shone my headlight across but there was now nothing there, naturally I put it down to being an animal or similar and went about placing some free offerings of cheese paste downstream in hope of one or two more fish before packing up.

Twenty minutes passed by before a very positive bite, the quiver tip thudding round and holding, you could almost have called it a crayfish bite, this particular fish made its way for some sunken debris before resigning itself to joining its brassy brethren in the landing net (3.12).

Like peas in a pod

A quick group snap and they were soon swimming off to their respective lairs and I was more or less packed up ready for home when I decided to preview some of the images on the camera and this is where I return to that self take.

As I sat on the riverbank to examine it I could clearly see a smudge to the left of the picture, between the trees on the opposite bank, exactly where I had heard the noise as the camera took the single shot, the area I had called out to and only had a response of more rustling that grew fainter.
Now I am going to show the original image here only, as I have tried adjusting the gamma levels and brightness with another copy of the image, this obviously does increase the grain and noise in the image, there was no mist and at the time any light drizzle had abated, the lens and sensor were spotless, no silly smudges, besides I always check whenever I am using the camera.

What I think I can see on the image and what other people may or may not see are two different things, but as I sat there on the bank I found myself drawn toward this transparent blotch, on zooming in and previewing I became uneasy, for myself it looks like a head of something in the shape of a guitar plectrum?

Having spoken to a few friends some have said similar, saying that there is the transparent outline of a head in the shape of a gorilla, conversely I have had a few friends say that they can see nothing and that maybe the sound was that of a deer or fox and just coincidentally in the same place and at the same time as this image. I don't know what others may make of it and perhaps I now sound a few sandwiches short of a picnic (cue the close encounters music etc), I did however make my way home looking over my shoulder.