Friday, 6 April 2012

Watching? ..Yes. Learning?....Um!!

In a quiet corner of the lake, a fin breached the calm mirrored surface. A journey to the area meant treading the untrodden.
Every hawthorn and bramble grabbing at me from side and sky, on more than one occasion they held on tight and their stubborness was matched by mine. They won of course, cuts to my arms being painful proof.
 They knew, you know?, them fish. Safe havens can be found on every lake, they'll always be there if conditions dictate. Sometimes you really do have to go down the slippery slope to get to them.
 I finally reached the area, they were there.
  Nestling down behind a half submerged snag I soon became aware of specific patrol routes between branches, the direction sometimes changed, the route didn't. In and out they came, predictable and confident in their presumed safety.
 A shaft of sunlight pierced through the overhead canopy of ancient oak sending a shaft of light through the water, illuminating a small gravelly area behind the snag.
 Tossing out some tiger nuts and sweetcorn on to this area whilst the carp were absent was simple, the corn glowing like the stars at night, the tigers planets, a sub aquatic cosmos.
 A carp of around twelve pounds sauntered into the area, it was a common. It spotted the corn, did it spot me also? Quickly taking two grains, it was soon on its way. Then another common, and another. All did the same.
 The next fish was a mirror, possibly a stock fish around fifteen pounds, relatively new to the lake and hardly caught, he'd be a bit green, naive, wouldn't he? He stopped above the baited area, hovering, just six inches above it, he was looking, intently looking. After a period of what can only be described as pondering, he set about performing a full 360 degree turn above the bait, still looking. When he stopped, in the self same position he started in, he started to waft the bait with one of his pectoral fins. Now I'm watching all this going on and he's clearly looking for a rig, surely? I'm transfixed.
 All this cagey behaviour, from a youngish, unpressured fish now had me puzzled. I was so entranced by its cunning behaviour that I was completely surprised by what happened next. A mirror of around thirty pounds swam into the area, nudged the smaller fish, which had eaten nothing, out of the way and instantly and boldly proceeded to eat the bait, throwing up clouds of detritus in the process.
 Fortunately the gravelly lake bed meant that I was still able to view proceedings with some clarity. This fish ate and ate. It was literally searching out single grains of corn, sometimes contorting its body into gaps under branches to access ate everything.
 What then, have I learnt? My first impression was that the large fish was large because he was greedy, and that therefore he was catchable and that the stock fish had more intelligence than I'd given him credit for. However, having given it some thought, let's just hypothesise that the larger fish had followed the smaller to the area but sat back and watched proceedings from a safe vantage point before entering and eating. This now put a different perspective on the whole event. Maybe, just maybe, it was the big boy who was the clever one, I really don't know.
 The one thing I have learnt from these observations on this and other lakes is that the commons are less likely to be caught over large beds of bait. A fish that picks up a few offerings then vacates is more likely to be caught using single hookbaits only, or at most a small PVA bag or stringer set-up.
 It's all good food for thought....and these hours spent in observation are never wasted.


  1. Thought provoking and excellently written. Thanks Gurn, it'll keep me warm for a good while that one


  2. A lovely read indeed Gurn. These visions and knowledge learned will stay with you for a long time, unlike the scratches which will be gone in a few days :-)

  3. Every answer leads to more questions, that's the wonder of angling. Great piece Gurn, I was sat with you.

  4. Makes you think Gurn.

    I have found in the past that if a carp comes across a food item in an area where it is not used too seeing it then it is suspicious...................... but then like the large mirror proved there is always an exception to the rule.

    Nice one