I spent a very enjoyable afternoon on the Cefn Mably complex near Cardiff last week. After a couple of hard sessions on the Wye, I decided to try somewhere a little more ‘straightforward’ where a simple wag & mag approach would surely result in a few bites.
I did harbour hopes of connecting with one particular species though. As with so many commercial style lakes, perch are usually the apex predator and as a result they can grow very large in such food-rich surroundings.
Armed with a pint and a half of maggots and a few worms, I settled into a quieter corner of the main lake where a large overhanging tree provided some natural cover, its branches weaving their way into the water – surely the prefect home and ambush point for a big billy.
After trickling in a few maggots every minute or two whilst I set up a simple waggler rig, I was ready to make a cast.
First a plump roach, then a skimmer, and then, after a quiet few minutes, a sprightly mirror carp of three pounds or so put in an appearance, testing my light tackle and bringing a grin to my face as he made the clutch of my reel whizz.
As the afternoon wore on I added a small tench, plenty more roach, including a couple around the 10oz mark, skimmers, a better bream of around two pounds and even a little eel.
Then, after another quiet spell, I hooked a better fish that felt like a decent perch, but slipped the hook before I managed to get a look at it. On the next cast I made contact with something that felt similarly perch-like and so it proved as a nice stripy of about a pound and a half came to the net. What perch from murky stillwaters lack aesthetically in comparison to the stunningly marked fish from clear water rivers or lakes, they often make up for in bulk – and this chap was no exception.
Frustratingly the next cast resulted in another decent fish shedding the barbless hook. That was it in terms of perch, but by now I’d amassed six species of fish.
The seventh species was a stillwater first for me – a lovely barbel of about two pounds that scrapped all the way to the net and was in immaculate condition. At first I thought it was a BIG perch, then after a minute or so struggling to lift it off the bottom, I thought it may be a tench – certainly the fight was more reminiscent of a tinca than that of a river barbel of a similar size.
I don’t know what the mythical barbel police would make of him or his surroundings. But if the fish are happy and healthy in their environment, I don’t have a massive issue with stillwater barbel. I’d still rather catch them in flowing water though.
I finished the day with a carp that took floating bread after a few half-heartedly scattered crusts were slurped at enthusiastically as the sun went down. I hastily set up a heavier rod and my freelined crust was eventually taken by a nice golden common that gave a solid account of itself in the confines of my swim.
I’d really enjoyed myself and that’s what it’s all about, after all.
A challenge I’ve long thought would be great fun would be an attempt to catch ten species of freshwater fish over 24 hours.
Having read Jeff Hatt’s ever-magnificent Idler’s Quest yesterday and his plan to embark on such a challenge, albeit targeting a far more tricky 15 species, I think I may have a go at my own bloggers version of The Great Rod Race this summer.
I’d be confident of tempting eight species across a day on the Suffolk Stour. Roach, rudd, dace, gudgeon, bream, perch, pike and chub would be tricky, but do-able, with the outside chance of a ruffe, bleak, eel, zander, bullhead, carp and tench.
If undertake the challenge locally, on waters I don’t know nearly as well, I’d probably target a mixed commercial pool such as one of the lakes at Cefn Mably and then move over to the Wye in the hope of tempting ten species in a day.
Sounds like a fun challenge!