On an August day when the temperature hits a scorching 35°C , the only relief comes from a slight breeze that stirs up the humid air. With luck, says Bob, the heat won’t have too much effect on this prolific day-ticket fishery.
After a look round, he settles on a swim on the Small Lake close to the car park. Anglers nearby report a few tench. The water is a fabulous colour and about 15m out fish are rolling and jumping.
Bob is fishing the long poleshort line at 11m . Target fish are small tench and carp, so main line is 3lb , the hook-length 2KDb and the hook forged -but only a size 20, and barbless, since maggots will be the bait.
He has very heavy elastic — almost the heaviest you can get – through the top three sections of his pole so that big fish can run 10-20m after the hook has gone home. The long elastic also means that he can strike as hard as he likes, because it will absorb the shock.
Bob positions his tackle box and bait-waiter then fixes a pole roller behind him — it’s not essential at Bob’s swim because of the flat bank, but it’s always handy because it keeps the pole off the ground and so protects it from possible damage.
He lays an extra 3m of pole beside him. This might be called on if he hooks a very big fish: the extra length allows him to keep the tip above the fish’s head and so slow the fish down.
Bob has brought four pints of bronze maggots, with a few reds for hookbait thrown in. His plan is to feed constantly to get the fish up in the water and taking on the drop. ‘It’s the quickest way to catch,’ he says. ‘As soon as you drop in, away goes the float, so you’re never waiting for bites. And you have to loose-feed regularly here to try to feed off the small fish and give the bigger ones a chance to get to your hookbait.’
Because he is looking to catch mainly on the drop, Bob chooses a tiny peacock quill
U 1L- pole float taking just three no. 10s spaced evenly down the line. He plumbs up and gets it right first time – 1.5m deep -then slides the float 5cm up the line so that he can fish the hookbait on the bottom if it isn’t taken on the way down.
Bob puts a red maggot on the hook, pushes out the pole, and lays the rig gently on the water in a line so that the hookbait sinks in an arc. He crouches slightly to counterbalance the weight of the pole, and concentrates hard on the tiny orange speck of his float top, watching for the slightest sign of a bite. and is in perfect condition. ‘The big fish should be moving in now,’ says Bob. But to confound him he has a run of small rudd and perch. ‘There don’t seem to be many big ones out there yet, probably because few of the loose-fed maggots are reaching the bottom, most being taken on the drop by small fish instead,’ he says. . It’s quite unusual to take cru- cians in the middle of the day because they are usually early morning feeders, according to Bob.
The small rudd and perch keep coming, then Bob gets a couple of good roach. Tantalisingly, next drop in an obviously very big fish bumps the line. Bob smiles wryly at the missed opportunity.
There are definitely some bigger fish out there now — Bob can see some large shapes swirling around in the swim. The float dips, he strikes and the elastic controls a 10 oz crucian. Things then get slightly frenetic, with masses of little fish competing for the loose feed and hookbait – in their eagerness, some even have a go at the float. Only twice in the next half hour do crucians manage to beat the tiddlers to the hookbait, both of them weighing about 12oz .
Bob strikes into a tench of a least 2lb . Quickly he reaches for the pole extension, but before he can attach it the elastic springs back into the pole tip as the fish comes off. A look at the hook shows that one of the maggots folded over the point, preventing it from penetrating the tench’s mouth.
Things go quiet for a while and Bob can’t get any bites. To get a slower drop, he moves each shot higher up the line and reverts to single maggot on the hook. He also tries lifting the float out of the water and dropping it back in straight after feeding, to keep the hookbait falling through the loose-fed maggots.
The ploy works, a 12oz roach and a similar sized tench taking on the drop. The heat has become unbearable, however, so Bob decides to pack it in for the day and seek some shade and a cold drink. After several hours of total concentration and holding 11m of pole under the broiling sun, you can’t blame him.
Bob estimates his catch at 10lb -exceptional, given the heat. He breaks down the pole for the last time and carefully clears up ready for another day.
Battling against the heat, Bob has demonstrated that good technique and constant feeding can still ensure success.