Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Vagaries of Natural Fortune, or, Always Something to be Happy About

So there we were back again on the new stretch, Parps with sections of lobworm on the crease of nearside slack on his trusty twin-tip Avon quiver and myself on the new experimental method in a glide running up to a raft

The Leam was at 0.65m which equates to about 0.4m or 16" above summer level and still carrying a nice amount of colour but not enough to prevent us being wary of breaking the skyline as we moved around

While I prepped the new gear I dropped a piece of bread on the tip close-in to the raft and immediately had a roach of seven ounces. Subsequently the rod was quickly thrown up the bank as I could see my preparations were to be interrupted. We were sharing a keep net placed halfway between us as we felt today could produce a few fish and to see the ultimate catch might just be worth sharing

Parps was flicking regular chopped wrigglers into the crease and let them settle in the slack and sat back to await his first bite

Meanwhile a heron flew up across the trees barking as it did so and a wren whirred it's little round clockwork wings as it traversed the water from rush bed to rush bed

First cast once I'd organised myself resulted in a early bite and some resistance. I drew the fish upstream away from the swim without breaking surface and P was there ready to net whatever it proved to be. A chub, as it happened, just over two pounds and a nice start

With each feed another bite came, but not rushed, just steady; and I was under the impression that it was once the folded bread hook bait became fully soaked and expanded that the fish took a gastronomic interest

My companion of the angle was starting get bites and lost two fish with soft action rod doubled over that had me wondering what the problem might be. Of course his adversaries were likely to be footballers and so the possibility of the hook not lodging appropriately in their bony mouths was always a possibility, if not a probability. I offered a few words

A sparrowhawk at one point whooshed over my left shoulder, the turbulence evident in the sound of its wing and tail feathers, twisting to maintain a course on track towards gathered thrush species in the scrub beyond. The local family of swans previously referred to glid (new word) past without so much as a ripple and their number, at four, was now stable it seemed, the cob uttering that odd 'whoopa' sound they make when excited

Two or three further nice roach were then rounded off by a beauty of thirteen ounces before Parps lost another two or three good fish and it was time to pay him a visit again. I allowed him to proceed as before and then struck at the bite for him which was quite positive, without being savage, and a fighter was on. Between us one pound six ounces of angry perch was deposited in the net, and all was well. I suspect it was just the strength of strike that was lacking but another lesson had been learnt and his all-important angling experience widened for future reference when needed

By this time it was approaching dark and we decanted ourselves into the one swim to try a big lump of crust into darkness in the hope of a big ol' rubber lips, nothing was doing as the fieldfares crashed into hawthorns seeking roosting opportunities for the night and so we gave it a few more minutes and then packed our last few items away and undertook the obligatory weigh-in and photo session, and a nice picture the make in the gentle flash of a remarkably good quality camera phone

As I reintroduced the catch to the water, catch - water, water - catch, Parps massively whispered 'Dad!, Look!, Owl!' along the bank and of course as I looked up it was gone but from his description it was our friend Tyto alba, the barn owl, often seen on our own stretch half a mile or so further downstream
We had mustered six pounds of nice fish between us, and not a sprat among 'em, in the receding high waters and I'm not sure whether the highlight for the boy wonder was his best ever perch or the owl but it probably doesn't matter; either way the pleasure was huge and he chattered all the way back to the lane bursting with enthusiasm for life and all that it could throw at him

So today found me there again. The method had worked and it was time to refine it further
A heavy frost awaited me however and the stream was now clear to over a metre down under the bread ball test leaving me less than hopeful and sure enough I was right to be sceptical with only one quick rap of the tip in my fourth of fifth swim on a light quiver tip
Company today was again the heron, of which I attempted a long-distance wide-angle shot (okay so the phone camera isn't that versatile!), and his tiny partner in Piscean crime the kingfisher
The is no doubt what the highlight of the morning was though (sorry hornet!) I crept through the villages on frosty roads a shape suddenly was upon me as it ambled onto the verge and then bounding in the lack-lustre, "Please don't hit me. I'm not that fast", kind of manner which only the badger, of British land mammals, can display. It made it to the other side following which I, and probably it, breathed more easily
So you'll have gathered by now that nothing was caught but it did offer an option to wander into the unknown and suss-out future swims within the new boundaries for plotting the downfall of some unsuspecting inhabitants once there is some more water on and tinge of fishy colour.
Meanwhile I suspect the canal will call again, a good heavy frost never bothered those hardy residents

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