Saturday, 19 January 2013
Having just celebrated the big five-o the family clubbed together and instructed me that, with the proceeds, I was to buy something special for myself. Very little encouragement was necessary and, after brief mulling, delivery of a J W Young BJ centrepin was inevitable, and what a beauty she is - all gunmetal, silver and gold in enviable precision
On the irrefutable basis that noteworthy things occur in threes the temptation to go small river fishing in the snow also gripped me, having long been enchanted by traditional photographs of chub against the white background
Whether the third event was to follow remained to be seen
The tackle had been pared to the absolute bare minimum, in fact had it not been for the fact that I'd need something to keep my backside out of the snow a single rod sleeve and my pockets would have sufficed!
Conscious of the potential to lose the ends of extremities under such conditions I found myself in an unimaginable sweat by the time I'd flushed a gangly heron from the winding watercourse and ambled to my starting peg but, a few zips later, the steam released and with the task settled in to, the balsa was running through quite neatly, supporting a bulk of 3AAA with a BB dropper, as the air filled with the sound of nuthatches twittering to each other in separate woods on the far bank
The reel was little short of a dream, so much so that when I struck into a surprise bite after about 20 minutes I remained so besotted by it that I entirely forgot to pressure the not inconsiderable adversary out of some nasty snags and the presumed big chub left me with rather less gear than I'd cast in
Another hour or so gently teasing pieces of flake and crust through the particularly comfy swim produced not a touch and the decision to try another spot further downstream took priority
Fishing in lying snow was quite different to my only other experience from the former life about 17 or 18 years ago when fishing an Angling Times winter league semi-final on the Bridgewater Canal at Sale. On that occasion I was using a 13m pole when huge lumps of snow started falling heavily and trying to see the tip of a tiny wire-bristled float through it was disorientating to the point of nausea, very odd
The second swim was considerably shallower and more snaggy than the first and a spell with the same rig, and later a link leger, gave no positive indications from fish if any were indeed present
A sign of the desperation that sets in under such climatic circumstances was played-out in the wood when a beautifully plumaged buzzard suddenly swept down to the ground in pursuit of female blackbird but, unsuited to such attacks, the raptor failed miserably in its brief attempt to stave-off hunger. The escapee exited with a shrill alarm call and the dejected chaser alighted on a high branch to contemplate the whereabouts of its next snack
Another hour or more passed and saw a return to the first swim to run through the repertoire again, but to no avail. Pheasants were flying up into small trees to my left as darkness started to fall. By this time I had been out far longer than I was either intending or expecting, such was the level of contentment, and as a pair of ravens struck-up their individually recognisable kronking in the wooded hillside to my right, before they flew along the rise in front of me to roost in a single tall tree, the feeling that I had outstayed my welcome descended, together with a hint of a probable ensuing drop in air temperature. This was not an evening to fish into dark
The snow seemed somewhat wetter on the return journey as the various footprints of mammals and birds entertained the mind. Certainly the peg from which I had wiped much of the snow with my irreproachable thermal boots had turned from dry snow to mud while I was there.
The three events I had to be content with were the snow, the reel and the lost fish this time. Soon the snow would be melted and the River back up to the top of the banks and not difficult to avoid. As I sat back in the warmth with an Ardbeg Islay 10 year-old single malt I wondered how long before I actually banked a fish under such circumstances, hopefully the reel will have by then become a natural extension of the self and present every chance of beating any bruiser audacious enough to snaffle the bait
Goldfinch, long-tailed tit, robin, fieldfare, blackbird, buzzard, raven, indet gull, woodpigeon, rook, heron, pied wagtail, magpie.