Far Bank Respecting your elders...
Armed with a rich harvest of traditional bait, Dom Garnett fancies his chances for a good bag of roach with his old man. But even the juiciest plans can turn to mush…
IT SHOULD have been a formality. By late summer I’m always on the lookout for bunches of elderberries. They cost nothing and can be a fine bait to pick out nice roach and other species.
My dad, who is the most laid back of fair weather fishermen, had found a huge crop down a country lane that seemed too good not to use.
With a plentiful supply of the bait, we hit the cut where I fancied we’d slay a netful of silver fish just for turning up. In fact I was a bit alarmed at dad’s lack of faith as we stopped to buy his ticket at Culm Valley Angling.
“Is it worth getting a half-pint of red maggots just in case?” he asks. I just about agree, although I insist that we only use them if things are going completely pear-shaped.
There are already fish topping as we find a decent peg and begin peppering the water with berries. For me, they work a bit like hemp. Slower sinking, but as with the deadly seed, the key is usually to feed like clockwork and offer a fine presentation. What could possibly go wrong?
After steadily baiting for 30 minutes, that expectant first cast is met with… absolutely nothing. I’m still not unduly concerned 10 minutes later. Even the ducks are feeding on berries, craning their necks to pick from the brambles on the other bank. But where the heck are the roach?
It’s mystifying. Last summer I had a netful of fish on the elders – today I don’t get a shudder of interest. A nugget of groundbait on each of our lines only succeeds in drawing thousands of starving fry, until I get the predictable line from my own elder: “Mind if I try those maggots?”
Within about seven seconds, elastic is streaming out of the pole as Garnett senior brings in a perfect quarter-pound perch.
It happens three, four, five more times as I sit there biteless, not wanting to admit the obvious – the only thing these berries seem good for is staining your hands purple.
Two hours in and I’m no wiser. Meanwhile dad, Devon’s most laid back and least prepared angler, is sitting in his plastic garden chair pulling in perch after perch on a pole rig he nicked from my box.
At about two thirty, I get a quick bite on the drop and strike. What was meant to be a half-pound roach turns out to be the tiniest perch of the day. What can I say?
I reach for the maggots, already
Dom’s dad John was glad he took some maggots...
John Garnett takes it seriously easy on the Grand Western.