December is the strangest time for fishing, isn’t it? I don’t mean the extra challenge of catching during the darkest time of the year, nor even the anticipation of
I always feel half-inclined to stay indoors and, like the double-headed Roman god Janus, who stands at the gateway between the recent past and the imminent
future, to reflect on what has been and what may lie ahead.
A glass of port can help with this, as can a good book by the fireside. Today, however, I decided to visit Clay
Farm Pond, and to shake off the slight seasonal doldrums which afflicted me last week, following a long and chilly blank at The Other Pool, - a blank I endured in the teeth of a relentless north wind.
Clay Farm Pond today looked as if autumn had only just left the party, and it had left without tidying up. The dam area of the 1.5 acre pool was a mat of leaves, mainly the yellowed canoe-like leaves of the willows.
At first I suspected that the leaf mat might be concealing carp, but it was not to be. Two or three carp boiled on the surface near the island, and there were plenty of bubbles in
the black poplar bush swim, where there is a marginal shelf above deeper water. I decided to try there.
The skimmer bream, alas had also decided to try there too, and I
missed several fly-away bites before I stopped cursing myself, believing I was missing carp, and managed to nail a skimmer in the upper lip.
I knew the carp would move
in eventually, but it was a little dispiriting to see the little bob twitch again and again and stop, because the skimmers were active.
Shortly after 12.30pm, however,
I latched into a common, - one about average size for the pond, with feral looks but less than perfect scaling. There were dark , healed scars on its shoulders, as if some predator had attacked it during its earlier life.
I was using flake on the bottom as bait and hoped that, with one carp caught, others would come. But the bream returned – not that I caught any more bream, but I recognised the twitch-twitch-twitch of their
activities, which almost drove me mad through frustrated concentration. I was using a large hook and, had I switched to a small hook, I’m sure I would have caught a dozen. But I didn’t want skimmers. More in blind hope than with any sound plan,
I decided to try popped-up flake. Perhaps this would help to reduce the bream nuisance?
It did work, actually. The twitching of the sight-bob stopped almost at once and,
when bites did come, I managed to connect. In this way, I caught three more carp, - two small commons and a fully-scaled/heavily-plated mirror, also small.
I was slightly
disappointed that no larger fish were in the mix, but I was treated to a wonderful wintry sunset to the close of day, as the mood of the pool became both secretive and slightly sinister. It was time to pack up and walk home, across the open fields.