320-5… but rain did not stop play (bream article, entry 40)

April showers! Living in the British Isles we know all about them don’t we! However, as I drove to the gravel pit that is the focus of my current angling campaign, I pondered that the term ‘shower’ was a totally inappropriate one. Think more in terms of downpour and I think you get the picture.

The one saving grace though, was that the rain – although intense – was not continual but sporadic. However, the flip side of that was it came without any warning whatsoever. Hence as I started my journey to the peg with not a drop of rain to be seen, by the time I got there I was soaked to the skin. As it happened, I didn’t dry out until the next day – in fact and spent a damp night in the sleeping bag!

My priority was to get the bivvy set up so at least there could be some respite from the rain when it came. And in typical fashion, once I had the shelter in place, the rain held off until the evening. That’s life! It did remain quite breezy though, and as a precaution I weighed the pod down with a bag of rocks. My memory is long enough to recall my first visit to the pit when the winds blew the pod over and the rods ended up in the water.

As I was on a two-night session, I had plenty of time to get everything set up correctly. Preparation is a very important aspect of angling and if we get the foundation right, it makes it easier to get things running smoothly for the rest of the session. I was fishing two rods, one a couple of lengths out in eight foot of water and the other on a plateau out into the lake.

With the near side rod I was able to simply put the bait out by hand without any guiding features to help me. However, with the right hand rod I had placed a marker float so that I could not only bait up accurately but also position the hook bait in the right place. Due to distance I used a groundbait catapult to fire the orange sized balls of dead maggots, particles, corn and broken boilies to the chosen spot. As always I used brown crumb as the carrier.

When fishing at distance it is always good to make a note of any features on the skyline such as trees or buildings. Although during the hours of daylight it won’t be an issue, in the event of having to re-cast at night it becomes an invaluable exercise. However, the first night of the session this was irrelevant information as far as I was concerned, as it was a fish-less night. The only sound was the rain and wind as both did their best to make my night an uncomfortable one as they beat down on the bivvy.

At this time of the year, with the days becoming longer, two-night sessions are ideal, as you get to fish the feeding spells and only have one day to kill. I am making the most of it though by incorporating some birding into my fishing. I took my species for the year (all seen while fishing) to 59 with a Reed Warbler. This is my third Warbler of 2004, and like the previous two, it gave me ample time to identify it correctly.

I also found myself the focal point of a pair of Mallards, and in particular the duck. Initially they occupied the water right in front of me, but as they grew more confident they came on the patch of gravel outside the bivvy itself. Throwing bits of bread acted as a spur for them to hang around continually, even deciding to roost that night next to the pod!

However, even though they became quite friendly they are still wild birds, so what happened during the day did take me by surprise. I had dozed off on the bed chair and was suddenly woken by a quacking noise! Looking down I discovered that the female Mallard had actually come into the bivvy, and was trying to wake me so that I could feed her! By now she had totally overcome any natural fear and made regular visits into the shelter for food, particularly when my back was turned!

As I settled down for the second – and final – night of the session, it was one of those nights, as the wind and rain again came in concentrated blasts, that you were glad to be tucked up in a warm sleeping bag. I would, of course, be more than happy to leave that warm comfort zone in the event of a fish taking the bait. And so it was at 1.30 a.m. the right hand buzzer alerted me to the fact that I had a bream bite.

As with all bream, the resistance was minimal and so in quick time I had a fish on the unhooking mat ready to weigh and photograph. At 6-7-0 this was the smallest of the bream I have caught so far on the pit, and has taken my average weight to slightly below 8lb. Still, I’m not complaining at all, so don’t misunderstand me.

I am glad to catch any fish, and certainly when targeting big bream you have to take what you can. Anyway, at that point, the wind had dropped and the rain had ceased, so there was not the uncomfortable feeling of getting back into the sleeping bag wet – apart from being covered in bream slime that is!

So far I have fished four sessions on the gravel pit, catching five bream in the process. Averaging out at about forty hours, with two rods that is eighty rod hours per session. One thing that is needed when pursuing decent bream is a lot of patience, as you can tell from the title of this week’s article!

So what may have appeared to be a decent enough cricket score is in fact a realistic report on fish per rod hour! Still, rain didn’t stop play, and for that I was grateful enough.

(Originally published April 2004)