And I celebrated with a cup of tea… (bream article, entry 39)

Looking at the available time I have between now and the start of the river season, I will be fishing lots of two-night sessions on the gravel pit that is my current number one venue target. And so it was, that I headed off with a packed car, to once more set up on the side of the large windswept pit.

Following the bream I had caught on a previous visit, I decided to specifically target this species as opposed to carp, which was my original intended fish. Not knowing anything about the water, I will literally discover something new every session of course. And as I have stated previously, I like the idea of being on a journey of discovery.

One thing I have learnt so far is that the venue is considered hard, and as a result is certainly not over-fished. I have seen just a couple of anglers on there at most, each session I have been on, and they have all been fishing for carp. From what I understand, the carp anglers do pick up decent bream from time to time, but no one seems to specifically fish for them.

As I was setting out my stall for big slabs on this occasion, part of my plan was to make up a new batch of fruit flavoured boilies. I know it’s certainly easier to go out and buy a bag of boilies, but the pleasure in catching fish on bait that you have made yourself is a nice feeling. From the base mix to the actual rolling, I have my very able assistant (my wife Debby) working alongside me in the kitchen preparing baits. A perfect marriage partnership if you ask me!

The first night was very quiet – no bleeps and above all, no helicopters! The first night of each of my two previous visits was memorable due to the police choppers that hovered overhead in pursuit of someone on the ground. However, at first light, the right hand rod – which was on the plateau seven lengths out – indicated to me that a bream had taken the bait.

As with most bream, it was nothing more than a case of reeling the fish in! It was just short of 7lb, which is a decent enough fish. And certainly, with me not really knowing what the potential of the water is, in all honesty I’m happy to catch anything as I start to build up a profile of the fish weights.

The plateau rises from the general depth of eight feet of water, creating a six-foot deep feature. It is the only feature in the peg and so is an obvious mark to fish to. However, unlike the deeper water it does have a thin layer of algae/weed on the floor which had caused a slight problem on previous visits as far as keeping the hook point and bait free was concerned.

Hence, after thinking through the problem prior to this visit, I decided to use foam over the hook point and fish with a pop-up boilie, so as to present the bait above the algae. I do prefer to keep it simple when possible, and this usually means fishing a bait presented on the bottom, but in order to fish the feature correctly, then a pop-up was the answer.

The days are now getting longer and so the time in between nights can be quite drawn out, and certainly you find yourself waiting for the hours to pass. However, on this occasion I found myself striking into another bream, this time at mid-day. The breezy and overcast conditions certainly helped though, I’m not sure whether a hot and still day would have seen me playing any fish at all.

This fish was again just under the 7lb mark and put up a decent fight as far as bream are concerned. Although I knew it was a bream whilst playing it, I did wonder whether it could actually be a ‘biggie’. But alas, my first double will have to wait a little longer, I thought to myself. In fact I didn’t realise how close I would come to fulfilling that dream!

One of the ways that I occupy the long days is to do a bit of bird watching. I’m using my fishing trips this year to see exactly how many different species of birds I can identify. I am currently up to 58, which is well on the way to my target of 100 for the year. On this session I added two species of gulls – the Black Headed and the Common – and a Chiffchaff. The latter was fairly easy to identify, in fact its song had me confident of the species even before I spotted it.

Settling in for the final night, it was at least dry – the first night had seen some torrential downpours, although wind direction had maintained a constant water temperature of 10C. For some reason I found it quite difficult to get to sleep, but eventually, by the early hours I was well and truly gone.

None of us like getting woken up from our sleep – apart from when we are angling that is. In fact we count it as a pleasure and a privilege to be disturbed by the sudden intrusion of a bite alarm as it brings us back into the land of the living! Hence, at 4.50 a.m. I found myself casting off the sleeping bag, slipping into my boots and standing over the pod. This time it was the margin rod that was responsible for the action.

Again, another bream had taken the boilie, but this one was much bigger. As I lay it on the unhooking mat, I wondered whether, at last, I had caught my first double figure slab. It certainly looked as if it could reach ten pounds, but in spite of weighing it a number of times (well there’s no harm in trying!) it didn’t budge from 9-14-0.

Was I disappointed? Not on your life, after all it was still a new personal best! I have a book that accompanies me on all my angling trips, where I record any relevant information and my entry at that time reads: ‘…it was just short of the double barrier, but funnily enough I don’t feel disappointed in the least. In fact I’m overjoyed and I celebrated with a cup of tea’

(Originally published April 2004)