Fishing: The harsh lessons of a no-bite day

Annalisa Barbieri on fishing

THIS IS a story that ends with no fish, I warn you now. At the end of that sad fishing day, my fishing partner said: "You can't write about catching nothing." I disagree. Sometimes days that end with an empty bag are just as instructive as bulging bag days, although they can make you quite depressed.

We started at Hanningfield reservoir but, because it was a horrid day with a grey sky spitting rain, I decided not to get into a boat even though I could see four fishermen well into fish. I fancied something easier, and I wanted to fish from the bank (which you can also do from Hanningfield if you so wish), so we headed for Chigboro Fisheries in Maldon, Essex. We started on Home Water - one of four lakes - where a day ticket costs pounds 15. I began with a Viva, and cast with intent. Nothing. I reckoned on the fish being quite far down because it was so cold, although this was rather academic as I had a floating line on anyway - hence there was a finite depth I could get my fly down to - and I could not be figged to change it.

This is where I fail quite dismally and wonder if I am a proper fisherman at all as I see others constantly changing rod/line/fly etc., but I'm all rather slow motion. Especially when it's cold and I am particularly lethargic, just like the fish. Nevertheless, I fished my Viva with a great concentration, hoping for some slight vibration to reach my index finger. But nothing. I tried various line-retreating methods: loch-style, slow twitch figure of eight, quick twitch FoE, twitch and wait, and various bastardisations of these. Absolutely nothing happened. I changed to a Gold Head Pheasant Tail nymph, after having raided the picnic box in a desperate bid to keep my pecker up because by this point I was quite depressed. Not catching anything brings out all sorts of insecurities.

By lunch time I had had 17 coffee breaks, all of them involving confectionery. So I felt quite sick and even more lethargic. The only thing keeping me from jumping in was that - as far as I could see - no one else had caught anything either, certainly not my fishing partner who can usually catch fish when others can't. I borrowed his rod, which was set up with a sinking line and droppers, then tried fishing with a Booby, which was great fun. I can see why Boobys are banned on certain waters, they are very tempting as they wiggle their way through the water with their big seductive foam eyes. But these fish weren't interested in tarty lures. Boobys, as the name suggests, are not the subtlest of baits.

Not catching fish isn't the end of the world, but not even having a bite, or a glorious miss that gives you thought-fodder for hours after, is just dismal. After a couple of hours of zero success rate I must confess I got damn bored. It's different when the weather is kind but a no-bite day, coupled with crap weather, is just too miserable for me. The highlight of the day was seeing this monster black and white fish moving slowly through the water and scaring the living daylights out of me. I'm convinced it was a carp, my companion said it was a diseased fish with fungi. Whatever, it was enough to make me break down my rod and head for home. Fishless.

Once home, I e-mailed two fishermen friends with far more experience than I and asked them why it is that sometimes fish just don't bite (the bastards). Philip Parkinson of Sportfish (a former fisheries scientist) said he thought it was usually "the onset of a change in the weather. There is no doubt that fish respond to impending weather changes (changes in barometric pressure). Some fish are more fickle in their reaction to changes in barometric pressure than others and I suspect that natural fish are more affected than recently stocked trout." His when-all-else- fails tip? "Go and do something else for the day." I like him. Ally Gowans, who recently caught and put back a 33lb salmon (the bastard) was even more pragmatic. "If anybody else is catching find out what they are doing and do the same, if nobody is catching find out what they are doing and do something different. If you are on your own keep changing tactics until you get the hits. Then store the experience for the future."

So, what I should have done was taken my floating line off after an hour and put on, at the very least, an intermediate one, instead of being a lazy old girl. Also, as I've always thought but Mr Parkinson confirmed, it's important to remember that, if it's not happening on the fish front, it's much better to pack up and do something else rather than get apoplectic, which is not at all the type of behaviour one should associate with fishing.

email address: a.barbieri@independent.co.uk

Suggested Topics
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore