Temperatures were in the teens when I journeyed to Bysing Wood – it was one of the mildest November days I can remember in a long while, and I thought it was a good opportunity to have yet another go at the big Bream.
I’ve had a few good ones this year - fish of six and seven pounds – but nothing big and certainly nothing near the target of double figures which I have repeatedly tried (and failed) to catch. I got a call from Ted our club bailiff to say that a twelve had been caught and it might be a good time to get over there and have another try.
Lots of members were fishing and there were a couple of ‘parties’ of four or five individuals in a swim either sharing a rod or just ‘spectating’. For once, everyone seemed reasonably well behaved unlike the usual accompaniment to such gatherings which invariably included bad language, shouting, and general anti-social behavior. Call me old-fashioned if you like but I go fishing to get away from such shenanigins.
I decided to try an area of the lake I hadn’t fished much for Bream, the top end known as ‘The Knicker Island’ end (don’t ask). There is a natural subterranean spring which enters the lake at this end; in very cold weather it is the last part of the lake to ice over and always leaves a clear patch even if there is an inch or two everywhere else.
After huffing and puffing with my new barrow to the swim, I had to sit down for a minute or two as I was sweating profusely - it was so mild and I didn’t really need the two jumpers and bib-and-brace I’d got on! However I set up with the usual Method Feeders, one baited with two rubber corns popped-up, and on the other rod, a single 8 mm. Halibut Pellet hair-rigged to a nine-inch braided hooklength. When after carp I like to keep this hooklength really short at two or three inches, but Bream need a bit more to take the bait properly.
I don’t mind using groundbait on the Method cage as long as there is some evidence it has been eaten. I like to use as little as possible in the winter to avoid over-feeding and prefer the strategy of casting all over the place to cover as much water as possible rather than to clip up and build up a concentration of feed; all this seems to do is attract the skimmers, fish up to a couple of pounds or so. By casting around over a wide area a lot of the lake can be searched and if there are Bream anywhere and in a feeding mood I reckon I’d get a take.
Things started pretty slowly with hardly anything happening during the first couple of hours. There was the odd snatch and pull – but nothing positive so I stuck to my plan of moving the baits around in a wide arc; I also tried different baits too and swapped between the 8 mm. Halibut pellets, 12 mm. Halibut Pellets, and double popped-up artificial corn at varying distances and locations. Eventually however, I had a drop-back take to a bait cast directly out in front – but unfortunately missed it. This tends to happen a lot on these sort of takes and I wonder whether they are ‘proper’ takes at all and not line-bites. At this juncture I happened to notice a series of dimples on the surface over an area of about twenty square yards, exactly half way across the lake.
These miniscule dimples are impossible to see in anything other than a flat calm and it was fortunate that whatever was causing them was in the one area of the lake which was in fact mirror-smooth. I’ve noticed this sort of thing before in the winter – it can easily be dismissed as little fry or even emergent insects – but experience has shown it is often fish grazing on the bottom releasing minute bubbles. I quickly reeled in both rods and re-cast right into this area; 8 mm. pellet on one rod and 12 mm. on the other.
They’d been out about ten minutes or so when there was a good old ‘bang-bang’ bite on the small pellet, the bobbin whacking the rod in a series of thumping raps. I hit the fish straight away and at once felt a solid resistance on the end – I knew immediately it was one of the big Bream by the feeling of dead weight on the end. Bream may not be the most exciting fighters in the world but you can always tell when you’ve got a good one on. This fish ‘kited’ about a bit before surfacing near the net and when I saw it I could see by its size that if it wasn’t ten pounds – it was near as damn it!
Fate however was as unkind to me as it has been with the other upper nine-pounders I have caught; nine pounds twelve ounces. Perhaps I should have stuffed four one-ounce Arlesey bombs down its throat?!
It seems churlish to be disappointed with such a big fish – but those who have similarly pursued their own goals weight-wise (perhaps with other species) will understand exactly how I felt. I was very happy with the fish – but disappointed I had once again missed the magic ten pound mark by only a handful of ounces. The fish was a real ‘slab’ and looked to me to be a young fish unlike some of the old ‘warriors’ I have caught in the past; this can only be good news for the future of big Bream fishing at Bysing Wood.
Out with the rod again and another series of little movements to the bobbin, all of which failed to develop. I did toy with trying to strike them but left them alone believing them to be line bites. There then followed a blank spell right up until dark when I had another fish of three to four pounds just as it was getting too dark to see.
By now things had become very quiet but I decided to stay on a little after dark to see if there would be any more action and re-cast both baits out in front one last time. Unfortunately, not a touch did I have, nor did I see or hear anything and gathered all my things together to load up the barrow. Just as I was about to withdraw the right-hand rod, the bobbin jumped up and down like a jack-in-the-box and I struck into another fish. This too gave the familiar dead weight on the end and for the second time that day I netted another big Bream. Slightly smaller than the first at nine pounds two ounces – but the first occasion I have banked two ‘nines’ in the same session. So something of a ‘result’.
The double yet again remains at large although I know he is there. His capture however I shamefully admit has now become something of an obsession……………….. and I promised myself I’d never get obsessed about a fish ever again!