Decades ago The Old Duffer, now officially retired from the angle (unless I can tempt him from time to time), used to take me to all manner of mysterious venues. Most times legally, sometimes questionably so
A vast cauldron of bubbling tales sit as yet to be rediscovered in my mind but they would range from being peppered with buckshot by a shooter oblivious to our presence but nevertheless, one would assume, aware of the towpath; through my falling-in to various parts of the Great Ouse system three times in one week at the age of around 12 years and spilling the beans into the grass when knocking them off the camping stove, scraping them up and eating them; to crashing the car into the back of a van when I was supposed to be ‘off sick’ from school and advising the WPC when I was interviewed that I thought we were doing, “About 40mph” after being strictly informed I should only answer questions I knew the answer to otherwise, “Just say you don’t know”. It was a 30 zone
Never did a week go by without an event and of course those happenings, and often mishap-enings, were compounded on club bus trips to far flung glamorous and grim locations (in equal measure) under which circumstances the frequency of perfectly-baked recipes for amusement in half-baked situations would beggar belief in today’s hermetically-sealed world
The Boy Wonder and I are now able to take advantage of those experiences on a regular basis. This past Saturday for instance we decided to travel a little out of Feldon to a stretch of canal that I used the frequent on a weekly basis, initially for pleasure and then for matches and practice. Some excellent times were had back then but this blog has never been about self-promotion and it isn’t about to start now, so I’ll stick to the point
The venue was always good for some not-so-easy-to-catch roach in the 2 to 5 ounce bracket, perch around the same size and occasionally the odd skimmer would show-up. Most pegs could produce between one and three pounds of fish and four to five pounds would usually be enough to win a match, or, perhaps, around two pounds in an evening competition
One area though was rarely pegged for a number of reasons and it was this that we would sometimes head for when pleasure fishing. I do recall not having the best of ‘luck’ there myself as, being a relative novice at the time, bream fishing was a little beyond me as I was much happier snatching smaller fish from the two margins. The Old Duffer though was quite adept and appreciated the laying-on technique and feeding necessities for skimmers
When we tried to quietly roll-up at dawn on this revisit we were a tad early and so went for the easy option of the known parking arrangements and the best peg from years ago, which we would share. This rather than risk being unable to park at the target bridge and missing prime time
This was TBW’s first dawn trip of the season and it was something of a test. Anticipating a potentially good day with the water the ‘right’ colour of murky green, cloud cover and boundless optimism we piled the bread mash into the channel (my job) and worm feed down the near shelf (his job).
From first cast it was action all the way as quality roach, then the occasional hybrid and then bream to just under two pounds followed in processional order to the net. In fact we were taken aback when a two ounce fish had the temerity to get in the way!
Soon the boats started to get active and The Boy was overwhelmed with a need to find out what was lingering over the worm feed before it was too late. The answer was crayfish, and certainly there had been plenty causing false action down the middle earlier-on. Soon though he managed to connect with some stripeys but they weren’t huge with the biggest around the half-pound mark. Good canal points for him though to go with his best roach yet of 8ozs
Packing away, and on the way back to the car, thoughts and conversation turned to that school boy and ecologists favourite…poo. We somehow managed to avoid quite a number of bank deposits either side of our shared pitch in the semi-gloom. Quite some luck as it seems there was a dog poo bag shortage locally. As we walked back however the larger specimens had been sprayed bright orange which we figured was a way of embarrassing the dog owners that had placed the offending lumps the day before.
“They should spray the owners orange”, we exclaimed, almost in unison. Hopefully this tactic will have some effect but it's sad to say there are certain areas of canals which are easily accessible where it is nigh-on impossible to find sufficient gap to sit in but, on the bright side, the schoolboy humour would have been absent without the dollops.
Dogs bottoms aside we hung exactly fifteen pounds of mixed species and sizes under the scales after three hours fishing with TBW adding points for roach and perch to The Bloggers Challenge
Sunday was an odd one
We didn’t fancy getting-up early again, so, with The Lady Burton otherwise engaged for the morning, and the only other excitement packing boxes for the house move we sloped-off down ‘our bit’ of the Leam
Setting-up in the swim that produced a big perch for him last winter, Parps got on with the task of dropping lobs into the six foot deep hole under, unusually, an overhanging hazel. Meanwhile, as has become standard practise, I struggled to muster even the slightest hint of a bite elsewhere.
“I’ve got one!”, he called, just minutes after settling-in and a quite beautifully deeply-coloured perch just under the pound nestled in his landing net when I went to see.
What seemed like seconds later I heard some attempt to communicate another event and clambered up the bank again. As I reached field level he staggered out of the shade of tree and now wilting nettles, mouth hanging open and arms away from his body in a fixed shrug. Dazed.
“Wassup?”, I queried
“I just had a great big pike on and it’s bitten my hook off. It took the worm but why would it take a worm? Pike eat fish don’t they?”
“Well, yes, but they are predators and will take anything that moves and looks edible. It won’t have gone far he’s probably still in the same place. So you’ve a good chance of getting him again”
Back in went the worm but slightly too far from the fed area so he wound the wriggler back and just as it was about to be lifted from the water, sure enough, “Crash!”, the monster carnivore took it again and soon enough it was in the net.
There in its mouth was the first shiny hook it had acquired which gave us the distinct pleasure of removing both and returning him, all one pound eight ounces of him, and TBW’s first ever pikelet, unharmed to the stream
Who says Crabtree is fiction? Not in our house it ain’t