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A Golden Pleasure

December 9 2008

My float has been bobbing up and down, showing signs of movement from rudd and roach. I've caught, in the hour or so I've been here, about twenty small fish, and one large, and very beautiful, golden rudd, the first I've ever caught. I was surprised at how golden it was. It's back was almost orange fading to a brilliant gold leaf colour on its body. I felt so happy to holding it, as if I'd caught my first salmon or carp. It released a new and bright enthusiasm over me, reminding me of my old feelings of why I fish, which sometimes, after spending weeks after uncatchable carp, fades and disappears.

The enjoyment of catching fish is overwhelming as my float sinks and I'm reeling in another.

A rudd. Its silver scales glisten and sparkle in the sunshine, its blood red fins move in time with its mouth and gills. The hook is easily removed, with a disgorger, and then the fish happily swims away.

I caught my largest roach to date from this pool, it must be a little over a year ago now. I'd spied three well rounded tench skulking close in to the bank, but hidden by an overhanging hazel. I'd managed to crawl through a labyrinth of bamboo, under the fence that surrounds the water, and slithered my way close to the tree. There in full technicolour where the tench but to my surprise, four very large roach nudged the water's surface. They looked lazy and arrogant, as though no one knew that roach that size inhabited the pond. How big? The largest looked to be close to three pounds and the others very nearly the same.

I then fished in earnest for them. Stooped in a very awkward position, I managed to thread my rod's tip through the undergrowth and out to where they basked. I tried all manner of baits, even artificial flies, but they seemed to know all about the threats from above, perhaps this was why they had grown so big? I eventually made the mistake of leaning to hard on the branch of the hazel tree and promptly fell in!

It took three weeks of being scratched and torn to find their new hiding place, again they were with the tench, but under the roots of a fallen tree.

I tried to lure them out. I did proudly catch two of the tench, one of which weighed over four pounds. The weeks turned to months and I found out that they had a routine of moving with the sun. The water was incredibly clear and as the light moved around the pond, so did the shadows from the surrounding trees. They'd drift slowly, staying well away from the large shoals of dead-bait sized roach and rudd, who were content to bask in full sunlight.

When the sea trout were running in good numbers and the carp season was at its height, they took up a lot of my time. I slowly started to see sense and realise that I could never catch them, and with the greatest of respect left them alone.

The autumn rains came and stirred up the water making it into a thick stew of run-off and silt.

On my last outing of the year for the carp I had pre-baited with sweetcorn; and was happily float fishing for them around the groundbait, when the float sunk to my surprise and I reeled in, after a small scale tussle, the largest of the roach! It was entirely luck and not due to the skill or the amount of time I'd spent, that finally caught the emperor of roach!

But I don't hold out any hope of catching him or his brethren today. I cast out again and manage to curve my float as it sails through the air. It lands very close to the reeds which stretch out to my right. Almost immediately it ducks under again but I miss the bite. I'm using bread as bait and if I fail to hook a fish when I strike then it falls off, and I have to reel in, re-bait and re-cast.

Two black silhouettes drift under the water's surface near the reeds. They look to be carp about the size of my fore-arm. I fling my float and bait out near to where they are but they sink down and swim out into deeper water.

A wind whispers in the trees and wrinkles the surface, which moves my line and float closer towards the reeds.

It's hard to see my float tip when the ripples from the wind swallow it, and it also rides up and down on the swell.

My eyes lower and look at my rod point, then I follow the curve of the rod down to my reel. My line jerks out quickly and becomes taught and tight. I raise my head quickly and try to find my float, which has gone. I lift my rod and am instantly amazed as the fish on the other end is hardly a small rudd. My light float rod hoops over with force.

The fish on the other end bends it as if it's a car aerial. I sharply stand up to apply more pressure. My heart begins to pound once more.

The fish dives towards an overhanging holly tree by my left hand side. I lean out and lever the fish around in my direction. It rises to the surface and I have a pleasant surprise to see a small carp.

I bring it closer to me and lift it out of the water with my hands. It looks to weigh three or so pounds. A mirror carp and its small scales along the ridge of its back are silver and grey.

I should really fish more often like this. Casting in hope for anything that swims really! My line is four pounds breaking strain, so it's fine and light for the smaller fish yet man enough to handle any surprises. The same as my rod I suppose. 'Pleasure angling' is the term used, but surely all fishing is pleasurable? I do feel particularly satisfied when I fish in this way though and I never feel that frustrated emptiness that fishing for salmon and carp can often bring. However you can't have the pleasure without pain- can you?