Sometimes detailed planning just works...
Adam's apple kept time with a swelling heart like a drummer driving the urgency of the message.
The breeze slept, furled by the rampant calm, as the mist stretched from the silence as if an inverted cross-section of marginal weed, it's mycelia fading into the chill as it rose.
Youthful passion had been expended here in silver sparkle and a powerful yet golden dullness, and treasure had been dug, but now this would be a new beginning. A venture of expectation and imagined unknowns. The temptation, the chase. The uncertainty, the rising excitement.
Those of a certain yet unpredictable maturity that shoal together could be relied upon here but, one score years on what would exist, if anything?
Mallard, magpie and moorhen made way with cacophony and splatter as dawn arrived; a pair here, perhaps as many as fifteen there and so I sat, among the scent of damp moss, warmed by hope.
The purpose of revisiting this wide, deep water of industrial provenance would be to cast some gain upon the scoreboard of challenge to my contemporaries. A game that has now taken on a striking reality, as fish after impressive fish is recorded and value awarded, has gripped me with its unfolding array of options and possibilities.
Bronze bream, the quarry, had lived here in trade proportions and, as the aquatic and riparian habitat appeared unchanged from distant memory, optimism grew fat. Would they too?
It was a risk. To introduce free offerings equating to two full slices of blue-wrapped finest would be either excess or success but that is the way of things now, matched with a lump of flake and a elaborately decorated crow quill indicator. Death or glory, yes, but the goal, a fish of over three pounds in weight, would cope.
Foot and paw traffic was frequent on this well-worn, neatly maintained route, and each of three canines appeared in fear of this towpath intruder; from Jack Russell through Black Lab to long-bodied, short-legged fat little mutt, all strangely nervous with owners claiming they 'had not seen an angler before'. Well maybe the stay-aways were wiser than I?
We would see.
Action and a strike twenty minutes after dawn, a fish on and a good fighter. A roachXbream hybrid of two pounds precisely. The warm-up act for the unexpected, due to occur next.
Soon the water would give-up its jewel. Not quite, but approaching, the fish of a lifetime and an unexpectedly marvellous event. A beautiful beast of a canal roach fought for its freedom long and hard against the soft rod which sought to tame it
|One pound eleven and a half ounces of canal angling perfection|
At this point as things slowed I recalled hooking and losing two carp about six pegs further on back in the 1990's. Could they still be on the same peg? It certainly looked as I remembered it
More bread was thrown to the edge of a bush and within five minutes one was hooked, its yellow body spinning under water like some kind of electric lure for the pike one could only imagine. After a spirited effort he lay in the, only just large enough, net - gasping and spent. A slender baby carp. Not your modern day washed-out, fished-out, disrespected, commercially-pimped tramp of a carp but a genuine wild fish naturally spawned and grown with no help from man. The first canal carp I could recall for around 20 years...and it set the mind racing to larger specimens and another visit
|At 3-7-8 not the largest ever caught but worth a handful more points|
The previous day, when internet-less after and while moving house, I struck lucky at another old Grand Union canal haunt on a peg I had not fished before, taking a further p.b. canal perch at 2.11.0 just five minutes after starting at dawn, and some half pound bigger than the one set just eleven days ago, together with a then best GUC roach of 1-7-0. A record which of course would stand for just one day.
|Monster 2-11-0 canal perch|
|Then best GUC roach at 1-7-0|
So, plenty of points added to the challenge board over seven days and a reasonable buffer to the next man in the shape of the inestimable Mr Hatt. The remainder of the challenge is going to need some careful planning having missed-out on some 'summer' species earlier-on in the season.
Thankfully, mild weather seems to be settled-in for a few more days yet, so may the quality of angling continue!