Thursday, 5 July 2012
It's Why I Fish.
There's a stretch of river, a colleague and I have been casing it out for a while now. It's remote, small, seemingly unfished and best of all, free to fish . We didn't know if it even contained fish, recent conditions have made fish spotting impossible, but this evening we'd hopefully find out.
Travelling light, one bag, Lucy the Lucky Strike, my Speedia, landing net , roll mat...I arrived at the stretch just in time for the rain to start, the terrain soon becoming slippery under foot. On finding a spot that looked good for a trot, I parted the bankside vegetation and threw out a few maggots whilst setting up a small stick float, bulk shotted, size 18 hook.
Sitting amongst the nettles on my mat, in the pouring rain, on a potentially fishless stretch seemed bizarrely normal, I made that first cast and the float settled then went off on it's merry way.....nothing.
I batted the spool of my trusty Speedia to bring the float home and re-set the depth, nettle stings glowing on the back of my hands. Another cast.
The float sailed it's merry course, and just before the end of the trot, vanished. I struck and a beautiful dace soon arrived at the waiting net. I smiled to myself. A fish, any fish can produce a smile, especially when you're soaked and muddy.
The next cast produced another and then another of these fabulous little fish. I smiled again. I'd have been quite happy to sit the evening out catching dace that made me smile.
Regular free offerings soon brought a hard fighting roach to the net...
...soon followed by a rather lucky shoalmate who I just manged to get to the net before a pike got him.
Old Esox had been here before, and so had I. I knew he'd be lurking in the near margin, I released the fish downstream lest he fall prey to the waiting gape of his jaws.
A swirl, yes he was there, I saw his shadow and poked him away with the landing net handle. The wind swirled around and the rain persisted, the maggots were now sufficiently drenched and had organised an escape committee as I tried to unstick mono from wet cane. The far from ideal conditions didn't really concern me that much, despite the realisation that my poncho had also been part of the gutless crooks booty a few days previous,
The float sank again, and then that looming pike grabbed the dace..I hung on a while, he wasn't big, but the battle was spirited on such tackle. I hoped the line wouldn't part, he was definitely holding on to that poor fish. After much spinning of reel I recalled something I'd read somewhere. I turned the rod 'reel side up', this apparently helps to negate any 'set' that may occur in the cane during a prolonged battle. It seemed to work fine enough and the toothy glutton was eventually landed, unhooked and released way upstream.
I really was drenched by now, right through to the skin, not because I was ill prepaired. I forego much for lightness and moveability, sometimes it has it's drawbacks.
The next hour or so saw the swim quieten down a bit, the odd perch just about keeping it interesting. Footsteps behind me signalled the arrival of a triumphant 'Paulo', gudgeon in hand. I called him a rude word and proclaimed him 'gudgeon king', how I wish it had been me, I love them the most I think, even more than bees.....and I love bees.
I tried so hard to catch a little gudgeon, the conditions worsening by the minute. The line often sticking to the cane despite the high bridge ringing. Wind and rain, the trotters nightmare! There were the hooks as well, stuck in everything from submerged twigs and bankside nettles to my tackle tin and hoody cuffs.
The float vanished again, this fish stayed low, so low I thought I might have snagged a passing branch, but no, fish it was, I suspected a pike. Slow, methodical but deliberate, I saw the shadow of a sizeable fish as it suddenly shot across the narrow flow. My thumb tried to slow it down and it was subdued just before reaching the only snag in the swim. What was it ? I saw it there, hanging a while in the water, carp?...no chub...big chub. I yelled to my friend to come quickly, this might need assistance.
As the fight continued we both peered down at the fish before us, I thought of the cane rod, the light line and the size 18 hook that held the single white maggot the fish had taken,"Please don't come off" I pleaded.
The beast chugged off upstream and out of view, I held on, the rod performed majestically and after a few hairy moments it gradually came back to me and after a few attempts the biggest chub I have ever caught was in the net. We looked at each other in wonderment and a little disbelief. It was now that I remembered that my scales had been stolen, 'Paulo' hadn't brought any along either, we seriously didn't think there would be a need. A phone call was made to another colleague Dan, who heroically drove some distance with scales and a camera (mine stolen) as the fish recovered in my net..what a legend....and what a fish..
...and what a way to catch it, I still can't quite believe it. What am I to make of the great karma roller-coaster of life and angling? I go from despondency to elation, my worse angling experience to one of my best, all within a week, and shared the moment with two good lads...That is why I fish.