Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Letting the fish out of the bag.

When I think of goldfish I recall seeing them when I visited fairgrounds, hanging up in plastic bags full of water for people to try and win by playing a game and if successful to take home and keep as a pet. The owner of Forest Lane Fishery near York has found another use for these pretty fish and has stocked his ponds with them instead of F1 carp. Like F1 carp they feed all year round, by all accounts the goldfish have flourished at the fishery and are regularly caught too so I headed down the A1 early last Friday morning to see if I could catch one myself.

A nice orange goldfish, just like the ones I remember from my childhood visits to fairgrounds, welcomes anglers to the fishery. 

After speaking to the fishery's owners in its on site cafe I made my way around and set up my seat box on peg three of "The Oaklands" pond. I got my gear ready and began fishing single maggot on a #18 hook under an insert waggler about a rod length out. It didn't take long to get a few bites and I was soon catching a few perch, roach, rudd and small bream. I had been fishing for an hour or so when a white and orange goldfish appeared just below the surface right in front of me and cruised around for a while before disappearing again. It was almost as if the fish was taunting me but I took it as an encouraging sign that they were present in my swim and reasoned that a bit of persistence would hopefully see me catch one of them. After a few more small fish something bigger took my float under and striking into it the fish charged off taking some line. Initially I thought it was a carp as it stayed deep but when it finally came to the surface I was pleasantly surprised to discover I had caught a barbel, a species I've never caught before. 

A very nice looking fish and my first new freshwater species of the year. I was impressed by its stamina, they are a very muscular fish. 
Another angler very kindly took this photo of me with the fish. 
Tired from its exertions in the fight I held the fish upright at the edge to let it recover before it swam off. 

The angler who took the photo was fishing a couple of pegs along from me with a pole, catching mostly carp and tench and we got talking. I asked what bait he was using and he told me it was cooked prawns which he very kindly gave me a handful of. I use raw prawns a lot in my saltwater fishing but I've never used cooked prawns so I was curious to try them. I scaled up to a #14 hook, put a small chunk on and the results were impressive. I caught a carp on the first cast and several more afterwards. A few more barbel took the cooked prawn and I also caught a few tench on it.

The cooked prawns chunks worked a treat and also totally eliminated the small silver fish and perch from my catches. 
One of the lovely tench that fell to the cooked prawn. I'll certainly be using them again for sure. 

The fish kept on coming and I was really enjoying myself. So much so that I had almost forgotten why I had made the journey, until that is I caught a fish that at first I thought was a small common carp but upon closer inspection once landed I realised was my first goldfish.

A fairly drab example of the species but I was very happy to have caught my target. 

Carp, barbel and tench kept coming and after a while I caught a second goldfish. It was a much prettier fish with an elongated tail, beautiful violet and orange tones and scattered golden scales. I'd later discover that this variety of goldfish is called a shubunkin. 

Goldfish come in a vast array of colours and with different fins shapes. Some varieties even have a double tail fin. 
The shubunkin has a long tail and is partially scaled like a mirror carp. A very pretty fish indeed. 

Eventually I used up my pile of cooked prawns and decided to try something else on my hook. I had a small jar of Japanese bait manufacturer Marukyu's JPZ hooking pellets in my seat box that I bought some time ago and had never used so I gave them a go. 

These pellets are made of a soft jelly and are strongly scented. 
I went for a "sweetcornesque" presentation of two jelly pellets on the hook. 

To be honest I was a bit sceptical about how effective they'd be but I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were. The fish loved them and again using them eliminated the smaller silver fish and perch from my catches. 

Another nice little mirror carp. 
I love tench. 
I caught a few common carp too. 

Before I knew it the time came to start packing up as the fishery closes at 18:00. While doing so I kept fishing and as I didn't have an eye on my float all of the time I loosened the drag off on my reel. A small chub was first to interrupt me cleaning down my gear. This was followed by a nice barbel that picked up my bait and charged off towards the far corner of the pond. Despite my drag being loose it still managed to pull my rod out of its rest and almost into the water. I just managed to lunge forward and grab the butt before it went in. After landing the fish, which was the biggest of the day, I thought it was a nice one to end the day on and broke my rod down. 

Catching this solitary chub meant I had caught all the species that were present in the pond. 
This is the barbel that almost pulled my rod in. 

I had really enjoyed a fantastic day's fishing at a lovely and quite unique fishery. I think the decision to stock the ponds with goldfish instead of F1 carp makes it a little different and gives it a unique appeal and for me it was certainly well worth making the drive down. I was also surprised by the strength of barbel too. I knew they were a hard fighting fish but they really give a good account of themselves. I caught quite a lot of them and even the small ones were great fun. I'm determined to target them in a river now with the eventual goal of catching one from the River Clyde. Using the cooked prawns and jelly pellets during the session also served as a reminder that whilst maggots are a convenient bait that most fish will take, other baits allow you to single out other species or to avoid catching smaller fish. The next time I go coarse fishing I might try flavouring up some prawns or meat. I might also have a break from float fishing and do some feeder fishing too. Before I do either though I fancy a session targeting perch and pike on lures. 

Tight lines, Scott.

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