I did something out of character yesterday. After a particularly tricky winter I’ve had a bit of a falling out with my local stretch of the Wharfe, and when I rolled out of bed early on Sunday morning, the prospect of another tedious expedition combing the water in the hope of a solitary grayling was not an inviting one. So, in search of a change, I made the decision to head to a commercial fishery.
I make no secret of the fact that I’m no fan of ‘puddles’. Far too often they are cramped, characterless places, grossly overstocked with scabby fish. But in the case of the one I was bound for, set as it is in verdant countryside and full of beautifully conditioned fish, I do make an occasional exception when myself and the river need some time apart, and as I drove down the potholed farm track past darting hares and herds of roe deer, I could have been anywhere in the world.
Given the time of year, I thought my best chance of some sport was to target silverfish, so set up a very small cage feeder filled with liquidised bread coupled with a maggot hookbait, and lobbed it into open water just to the right of a small island. I was expecting finicky bites and probably a long wait, so it came as a shock when on my third cast, as I fumbled in my bag for my flask, the rod went clattering out of the rests down the bank, a frantically grasping hand just grabbing the butt before it vanished into the murk. A gleaming four pound common carp was the culprit who, after a typical chaotic tussle, lay in my net. More carp followed – commons, mirrors, ghosts – though none quite as large as the first, and all day I was entertained by rafts of F1s (a carp/goldfish hybrid), so many I lost count. Good ones too, up to around 2 pounds. It was rare sport, certainly among the best days of winter fishing I’ve ever experienced, and all the more surprising as most other anglers were struggling for bites. Funnily enough, I neither saw fin nor scale of a roach all day!