Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Rediscovery of a Seasons End

So, as I was, saying...

The Discovery was retrieved from the insurance company's own repair workshop last week. Like new, it was. Immaculate, smelling like a car in a showroom and complete with all contents, maybe somewhat stupidly, left inside and, on a personal level, we are whole again...just in time to enjoy the end of the season 

The River Leam never ceases to engage me fully. Whether on the bank or dreaming of it, the little river is such a tease. 

There is a length of maybe three swims on our Syndicate stretch that have intrigued me for the 2 or 3 years we've had access to it. 

It seems perfect. Steady flow, smooth glide, nice depth at 3ft plus along its length and edged by undercut grass beds on the far steep bank (where it hadn't caved-in) been and lined with rushes nearside. 

I'd been drawn to it numerous times but, not until this winter, had it produced so much as a bite! 

A bit of a dabble at the downstream end, where the current disappears under a goat willow, in passing, one early autumn day 2020 actually brought one of those surprising bites where one is going through the motions, expecting nothing from the whole charade, and yet it spoils things by damned well working!

Not only did the tip twitch but it proved a decent roach. The very fish that should be there. 

Since that day there has not been a biteless visit to the glide and, although it remains seemingly impossible to ensnare more than two fish per swim, it is somewhat gratifying that they are showing from there now. 

My guess is that I've probably tried it at the wrong time previously and that it would seem logical for fish to move there in winter, with a bit more water on. 

A surprise chub of 2.14 was welcome on one occasion but with that, and one or two other fruitful swims, the roach potential of this little stretch, reachable within 5 miles of home while travelling has been constrained by Covid, has been evident. Odd fish have been small but a good proportion of them have been over 6ozs and up to a peak of 11ozs. Nothing to threaten the stretch PB of a pound and a few drams, nor indeed the river best at 1.4.6, but nice fish nevertheless and very enjoyable when options are few.

...and so it continued until the end of the season, punctuated by some nice dace to 7ozs.

A burst of (over?) confidence led to a closing day rush of blood.

It would be a three-pronged attack on river best chub (3.15), roach (1.4) and dace (8ozs) with liquidised bread in a tiny 10g feeder on the wand in various areas of the main flow and creases while in a deep slack the treat of a huge piece of crust would lay, irresistibly waving in the gentle swirl of the current.

A fellow Syndicate member, initially suspected as a poacher, was ensconced and awaiting the action when I arrived. A brief chat was followed by a couple of other snatches of conversation between bites which culminated a bizarrely in-depth conflab on rare circa 1980 records, from The Undertones via XTC to Blue Rondo a la Turk. Not the every day discussion for sure but great, and quite passionate, reminiscing as it turned-out.

Three proper bites and two roach of seven ounces and ten ounces immediately after were the limit for the last session of what has been a necessarily limted and therefore patchy season to say the least. Both were taken on the micro-feeder option with not so much as an aquatic sneeze in the direction of the crust labelled, "Big Chub".

The journey home, was not exactly one spent floating on the basis of the result but it was more than comforting to have the bus back, and all that it entails.

Roll-on June 16th!

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Defending the Discovery of a Land Rover

My first Land Rover, a white 200tdi 110, bought for tuppence ha'penny from a farm, was our first experience of them

Great fun when the The Dog and The Boy Wonder were little, careering through floods and waiting for the squeal as the murky water dribbled through the dash onto The Lady Burton's knees

It was supposed to be a sort of weekend car for fishing and bikes (you could get the four of us and our bikes inside) but it was so enjoyable I started using it for work surveys despite the dodgy fuel gauge

The Lady Burton had a 300tdi Discovery prior to that but it was beyond our pocket to maintain it at the time, so it had the traded in for some common sense in the remarkably similar form of an original Audi TT, beautiful car that was...red leather interior, proper design classic...until the boys outgrew the back almost-seat. 

From time to time though you would hear the phrase, "Dad's getting Land Rover magazines again. It can only mean one thing"

We'd pondered camping holidays and as the boys grew the motor home became too constrained an option, mainly in terms of sleeping arrangements, but having dallied with the prospect of a G4 Discovery 3, decided against it and secretly hatched the plan of a Defender Tdci double-cab pick-up with ventilated aluminium pod over the back complete with Hannibal roof tent and separate OzTent which involved weekend visits to far flung private enthusiast/dealerships until, on the day, we collected the most incredible piece of kit; chipped for economy and Discovery-like performance. 

Boy did we have some fun in that vehicle! 

On holidays, it took just a few minutes to put the roof tent up or down, in fact no longer than the motor home had taken to tidy into a driveable condition every morning

When the pigs grew to size they were rounded-up in a homemade 'pig walker' and driven to the end of the road in the back, returning as the most amazing sausages and cuts of meat one could imagine. What a difference it made to feed them on household scraps, not factory produced feed

The roof tent was a whole new world. When zipped-up there was zero light. A finger in front of the eyes could not be seen. Perfect darkness. The quality of sleep in that was at a level I would be so grateful for these days

It wasn't always a perfect exercise though

On the maiden overnighter it rained all night and on rising to a bright warm sunny morning everything felt somewhat moist. Granny Green Teeth was 'downstairs' in what we called the lounge and was found to be floating in half an inch of water on a camp bed. Bless her, she thought this was what happened when you went camping. It turns out however that our supplier had received a batch of unsealed tents and rapidly replaced it with one that worked properly. What an event! 

The death knoll of the package however was a Dorset trip littered with severe weather warnings. The OzTent had a fearful sag in the roof one morning, with a reservoir South-West Water themselves would've been proud of, the cause. The tent was on a slope and before TBW and I woke (I know!, you can see what's coming!) the other half of the foursome decided to heave the water off the roof. Uphill. 

The rest is a tale of insane cackling and irritability, punctuated with bursts of frantic cleaning and mopping. 

Next night, severe gales. The car was rocking about like a boat on the high seas. Accentuated by the height, the tent was buffeted and bashed, and at one point TBW, being a tiddler at the time, wrapped himself around my right arm and, trying to hide his fear, asked quietly, "Are you okay Dad?". This caused me to realised that a bracket above an overhang that covered the ladder had become detached, banging against the Camelback, and to his, now lifelong amusement, I ripped the whole thing off and flung it to the ground. In the circumstances there was little else to do

From what had been a packed and bustling camp site, we awoke to water-logged open spaces and, in the field below us, a pile of abandoned tents. It seemed we were one of very few that sat it out. The camp workers said they would decide which tents were salvagable and sell them, the rest would be scrapped

Meanwhile a mk1 Freelander came into The Lady B's possession with a kind of Altro-esque interior which served well for an easy clean. This then morphed into Freelander 2, ideal for a soggy trip to the the Wye and then, having dallied with hybrids, a lifetimes dream became available. A low mileage Discovery 4 HSE with cream leather seats and matching piano wood inserts

Purchasing the car was a nightmare. Firstly no Land Rover dealer was in the slightest interested in talking to us about a car and, when we eventually found one on our doorstep, that fine, fine company Experian, whose feedback is all-but entirely and scathingly negative, put a block on it. Much wrangling and a month later the vehicle passed into our possession. It's more than a vehicle though it's an organism, I'm sure of it, that can take you to places you would've considered impossible, with absolutely no help from the guy in the driving seat

Fast forward 15 months and TBW wanders by on the landing with the passing comment, "Oh, hi Dad, I thought you'd gone fishing. Where's your car?". The sharp and predictable reply followed, but, no, he wasn't joking, it had been removed in the night, keys still in the house in 'Faraday bags'. How they started and moved it I've no idea, but they knew what they were doing for certain

Phone calls to Police and Insurance Company ensued and a value was agreed, because I wouldn't be getting it back, but I had to wait 5 days, at which time they would pay out and the search would be on for something conversely undesirable as a replacement. Maybe an Audi A2, the car no one realises exists

Serious consideration was given to Subaru Forester or Outback, and even a Mini All4, when the realisation dawned that, come Monday, I'd be car-less

Discussion also turned seriously to security cameras and the like 

Then, four days later, TBW (as a soon to be policeman, our in-house Police Liaison Officer) takes a call saying the car has been found. Dreading to hear what state it's in, or even whether it's intact, I want to cover my ears. No, it seems it's still the same shape as when it left. It was found by a Police Officer specialising in spotting stolen cars and noticed this one due to it having shiny new plates on a filthy vehicle. Who said you should keep your car clean? 

Mixed feelings abound at first and a feeling of not really wanting it back after it's been who knows where with who knows whom doing who knows what in it but slowly this lifted and when further news later appeared to confirm the contents were still intact the immediate emotion was, "When can I get it back?!"

I'd listed the contents for insurance purposes and was staggered at the stuff I had stashed away in there, even when it seemed almost empty, and the cameras, binoculars, roach set-up with 50th birthday centrepin were the items I most wanted to see again

Plots always thicken in modern times of course, and, this would be a cornflour and bisto mix (day 5). The insurance co., confirms it's settling the finance and sending me the balance, plus £150 for lost belongings. 

WHOOAH!

It went like this:

"I don't understand why you're paying-out when the five days weren't up at the time it was found". 

"It's been found?". 

"Yes if you read the file you'll find I emailed you yesterday". 

"We've not had a email! Hold on please". 

...inane musical interlude... 

"That's fine Sir. I'll put the file on hold until you get back to us". 

Subsequently, 7 days elapsed from finding the vehicle to something actually happening, i.e. its removal to have locks changed. A necessary repair. 

So we hope to be reunited this week and we'll see what's missing from inside, if anything. 







Saturday, 13 February 2021

A Fleeting Reflection on Ice


In the night it was minus five (apparently). Today, it did not get above a balmy freezing point all day. 

Can there be enjoyment in this, well yes, but success?... 

Winter has rarely been a time of waterside angling excitement. Being 'out in it' can produce the most enthralling of times but ordinarily there's far more hope than result. 

As a youngster, I've only recently recalled, we scarcely went fishing in winter. Apart from the infamous 'Swan hits HV cables' Xmas Day blank. I guess The Old Duffer had more sense than to risk aching knuckles as time progressed, unlike his dozey progeny.

A taste for Winter Leagues and then a few tremendously cold Winters in the 1980's however changed that and fishing through canal ice became a regular thing. 

I drew next to an established and respected angler as a teenager the first time I encountered ice, armed with the equivalent of a toothpick in the face of a 'berg and watched-on in 'towpath please subsume me' trepidation as he cut himself a slot of clear water and I, nauseated, saw my match slip away before my very eyes. Kindness though was not his weakness and he gave me his breaking kit once he'd done his peg and explained how to go about it. I don't remember what we caught but I do recall a quickly establishing pattern, particularly on intermittently frozen match lengths, of the fish always being under the ice rather than the, often inexplicably, clear sections and that the fishing was actually better with ice than without. 


These of course were the days of bloodworm and joker winter leagues. Leagues that banned such baits were usually suspended in such crusty circumstances, locally at least.

Such events became the norm and over time a series of different steel weights with a screw thread attached to a chain and a decent rope became standard kit. I've seen anglers with sash window weights, lump hammer heads, bricks, etc., to do the damage but, for a little fella like my dearself, carrying the additional heavy weight on long walks in big matches was a drag, almost literally. Over time though, the method was perfected such that, on occasion, given the right thickness of ice, it was possible to cut a single rectangle out and slide it under the main sheet. This was far preferable to removing a thousand chunks and shards with a, soon to be shredded, landing net.

The worst occasions were those commencing with the heart-sinking pinging and twanging of the ice floe being pressurised and crushed against steel piling by that first boat and then kept fluid by the ensuing flotilla on inexplicable busy days of traffic. Days when the majority of the time was spent recreating fishing space. The best days however were with just occasional boats, sufficient to keep the water in a tinge of colour, following the initial commotion and stirring of silt caused by the ice breaker itself hitting the bottom. 

These were the days of ruffe, gudgeon, perch and, for the more skilled, bonus roach. We picked-up a number of tips along the way from the stars that used to frequent the matches we poured our hard earned money into and yet when those match fishing boots were hung-up for the final time I'd have to confess that bloodworm and joker were baffling to the end to me. Much to others' amusement the method just went straight over my head and yet I was told it was so simple. 

There was a particular day when all team mates were otherwise engaged that I decided to attend a match on the Wyrley & Essington Canal. An out and out 'joker job' for small fish. There must've been other things on as it wasn't a huge turn-out, maybe 40-odd anglers. Anyway I drew where I was lead to believe the winner would come from, with spare pegs both sides, and, with an hour to go, I thought I was well clear of the field, with about 3lbs, catching behind a log laying on the edge of the far shelf! 

Well, with half an hour to go, there was a commotion to my left and matey boy, who had previously had very little, has only hooked a carp! 

That was as close as it ever got in bloodworm and joker matches against top opposition. On most other occasions it would have been simpler have put £10 on a runner at Warwick, selected by pin and blindfold, and taken my chances. 


I've waffled about little gems falling from the mouths of others before and in the bloodworm stakes there were many, but, it being a method I would come to endure rather than enjoy, it was, rare that these nuggets were put into positive practice. 

There was a time when a top angler was catching better stamp roach, we gleaned, on a single joker using a bristle waggler and a slow fall with 3no13's spread down the line. We tried it, and the roach didn't feed, anywhere. 

In another period it was the thing to dump a load of worm down the middle in the hope of snaring a skimmer or two later. That failed miserably and I also recall big roach being caught six inches to a foot off bottom late in the match and that didn't produce a bean, let alone a roach, for the FF&F net. 

Anyway, needless to say that 'the blood' did not flow in this angler in the same way that a grain of hemp or a pinch of bread could get it racing through the veins when they worked! 






Friday, 29 January 2021

An Exciting Snow & Ice Event


Yesterday it was 11 degrees C, overcast, breezy and yet, having double-checked, it was still January, not April.

Last weekend however...as the frost formed a sparkling coat on Saturday evening, the likely swim for Sunday was labelled

Leam levels had dropped significantly at the end of the week and, while water temperatures had been rising, with it a sudden change reverted it back to a meagre 4°C

Identifying fishable slacks with a known clean river bed was a challenge but, on the basis that fish don't move far from their regular haunts, the first hole selected was where a small backwater met the main flow coming straight towards the bank and leaving a little slack perfect for the pole leger at 10-11m down the side of some linear phragmites growth while, to the west, a flock of 30 lapwing floated in a swirling spiral of apparent indecision

A gentle breeze blew with the main flow and brought a brief sprinkling of snow pellets to wake the fingers and numb the face. Woodpeckers 'kecked' between the naked ash boughs as a male buzzard braked on urgent wings to briefly take-up position below them

A Covid-inflicted alternative lobworm supplier had delivered a wizened and partly dead batch of otherwise prime turbid-water bait in the morning but, even had it been vigorous and healthy, chances were slim

A sharp suck of freezing air, a split second after the snow, punctuated a deeply felt swirl in the slack. Not the kind of action one might anticipate but a trend that was to typify the weekend

Soon, another crash down stream, but this time a precariously balanced piece of floodwater flotsam had become dislodged, fallen and resurfaced like a pole dropped, end-on, off a quay

Lifting the rig, set at around 12' with the water on, would occasionally meet with a snag but nothing was lost and the odd thing was gained

The turbulence of the swim became noticeably random once we became properly acquainted and, as one upsurge dragged the bite marker off line, like a grounded child clinging onto a roundabout, a chub of around two pounds burst the boil and surfed for 4 or 5 feet

Why such activity in such a cold, tumultuous and treacly environment is beyond comprehension but that was not the end of it

Nothing so exciting as a bite interrupted proceedings but that wasn't a deterrent to this PB clinging on for its life on one lift out of the bait. In fact it looked like a leaf until it started wriggling madly... 


I'm sure a tiny one of these little beauties, that wouldn't look out of place in a rockpool, had graced the palm years before, but sadly the grey matter stretcheth not sufficiently to recall it

Another couple of swims were tried but the dead or dying bait left little confidence in the jar so an 'X' was marked on the spot for the Sunday and a laboured walk back across a crispening sodden meadow drew the evening to a close

----

Next morning, for no apparent reason, the 'X' wasn't appealing and the lower limbs headed the opposite way, downstream, where three nice slacks caught the eye and were gently tickled into, the hope of, action for half an hour or so each on a straight lead having attempted to fish the Saturday swim again but, with the water about a foot lower, it was pretty much unfishable due to the changed turbulence and after losing the whole pole rig that implement was thrown into the Land Rover and out came the trusty Avon Quiver. To no avail either, of course! 

Meanwhile, as warned by the wireless from London, the sky burned a smokeless fire from the east. A prelude to the epilogue


While irritating the second swim such that it's mouth became clamped shut, more fish were splashing under an overhanging bush on a bend tight to the bank below me

More inexplicable behaviour at a slightly reduced 3.8degC water temperature

Moving to swim 4 of the session snow fell and fell heavily such that soon two inches of the fluffiest stuff had built up on all that was previously in view. Loose items such bait dropper, scissors and chopping pot had to be dug from the whiteness to be rediscovered and the wider scene became immediately Christmassy, a month too late


Nothing moved for some time until a pair of Jackdaw flapped west followed a loose flock of Carrion crow. I flicked the rod tip to reveal a quiver again, just in the faintest hope, but that was all it would be. There really was no chance of a bite but the experience of sitting through a complete snowstorm from start, watching it build up, to walking back through its freshly deposited crunchiness was a rare event and, as I exchanged pleasantries with Multidogman by the car, we were in firm agreement that the opportunity to be out in it was not to be missed

How much of our lives do we spend constrained by bricks and mortar in ignorance of the true realities of life?

----

His Artificial Liteness, Eric Weight, has again been working his magic with minimal input from yours truly based on autumnal angling fare.

The results can be viewed here or via the tab at the top of the page


















Wednesday, 6 January 2021

The Snow Fish


A snow chub had been on the agenda since returning to angling now some 8 years or so back

Catching it took some time but the accompanying reward of an inner completeness was worth it

The first with any snow on the ground was something of a disappointment as the snow lay neither deep, nor crisp and more thinly patchy than even

At the second attempt, in proper crunchy, creaky, fresh snow, the anticipated satisfaction, if not more, was all around

Opportunities in more recent times have been more limited however with less non-work, snow-hit days available for such pursuits

Last weekend, the first of 2021, was not a contender but an afternoon session of around two hours at Rocky Res was always going to be a challenge even without any weather constraints at the time of year

Hoping for quality roach at 3°C with light showers wafting in behind me from the west, two open-end feeders were deployed at distance with 18 hooks on short helicopter links and red rubber maggots offering the natural presentation of an unnatural snack

Flurries of departing gulls headed to the nationally significant roost Draycote Water as the evening drew in. Coots were in and out of the water at each passing dog walker

Four roach, three of them noteworthy, topped to my left as dusk hinted at its intentions and at a distance that suggested the feeders sat in the right area 

As the afternoon progressed so the quality of the angling regressed to the sort of state that left a feeling of hopelessness. It became seriously cold and at sunset, when the bell tolls for we lesser mortals without night tickets to packaway, odd pellets of snow started to hit the water, and. as I reached for various items to tuck them under the umbrella, the left-hand alarm struck up a shocking shrill chirp and an urgent glance down witnessed the bobbin hit the rest and drop back to the ground, confirming a self-hooked fish

Lifting the rod, a very gingerly-played fish was slowly inched toward the bank, or so it was hoped. It became increasingly apparent that this probably was not the ultimate target and, as thoughts turned to the landing net, it took on that unmistakable increased power closer to the bank that can only mean one thing


Who'd've thought it. Not a huge fish at 3lbs 9ozs but a winter tench, a January tench and a snow sprinkled tench too, all in one freezing finale to an otherwise fish free afternoon. 

Which surely supports the adage, "Never give up"!






Saturday, 2 January 2021

Arthur's Basket


Isn't it annoying that the YouTube videos glanced at long enough to start rolling before ones very puzzled eyes find their way into your watch history by default? 
I suppose I could bother to set it so that it doesn't, but then I'd be content, and how boring would that be?! 

History in angling is very much at the mercy of the memory and, at that, the memories of others, often unknown and far away. Unless it is deemed by the journalistic community to be of National significance, or committed via the words of a book, the truth is often difficult to pin down. 

Now, fishing information is often distorted we find, do we not? 

If it's not a match angler cringingly under-'estimating' their catch, it's a carp angler claiming an unwitnessed pound roach, caught overnight of course, to be a 'three'; or that person in the tackle shop (remember those?) who just cannot recount a tale without it growing one and running away with him, or her. 

If only. 

Just occasionally however the truth really can be the best story, honest, and, similarly often, there's one right under one's nose lost in the vast expanses of plain sight, and so it is with this. 

When I was a boy, my grandfather, 'Pap', who was blind, could be found, daily, sat on a wooden dais, with his dog 'Sal' next to him on her blanket, weaving in his outhouse (he was weaving - not the dog). 



Cane would be soaking in a vast tank of black treacly water while he felt his way round the seat of a stool or chair and made a perfect job of it without ever having seen it. To a youngster, and that being all I had ever known of him, it all seemed unremarkable and it's only in recent times that I wished I had taken more notice and perhaps even learnt how to do it myself. Apart from new stools, repairs, handled shopping baskets, etc., Pap also made the most sought after fishing baskets, 'creels' to some...to measure, and they could be seen standing against the wall of this house on fine days. 




Owning such a basket was a commitment. As they dried they would creak and eventually take on a fearful lean. It was a requirement of the contract to own one of these beauties that it were to be submerged in the bath every so often to swell the cane, tighten and straighten it up. The more diligent would varnish theirs every close season and thus they took on a regal depth of woody hue that couldn't be beaten, but at a cost, they would get noticeably heavier with each coat. 

The Old Duffer, as Pap's son, once had a basket made to the exact height of his flask, with 6 legs, and, once delivered, it was like the woven equivalent of a Chesterfield Settee. A work of manually-laboured art. A pale off-white cane for the panels and a richer red for the base, rim and lid. 

I recall the little fella (5'-3" on a clear day) returning from its maiden voyage to announce, "It's no good. My feet didn't touch the ground!". I seem to recall he cut an inch off the legs and thus became happy again. 

Many would paint their initials on the side so that they didn't get mixed-up on the club bus trip to a far flung river and end-up in someone else's shed. Things moved on though. In came vast solid fibreglass seats with a veritable rectal effigy cast into the lid. The scrawl was on the creel from that moment. Slowly, in fact probably quite quickly, baskets were discarded or handed down to sons or, more rarely then, daughters, and the brand battle in angling began in earnest. Stephens of Birmingham, Steade-fast, Brennan & Hickman. These were the forerunners of today's commercialised angling world. 

So the dear old characterful basket was soon extinct. A demise caused by man, but without any hint of global warming. 

Or so I thought. 


A while back The Old Duffer's old fishing pal sadly passed. He was visibly shaken by the event and, as a memorial to their many years sat on sunlit banks together, his dear wife, 'Aunty Ann', she who once got her dentures stuck together on the riverbank on a Quality Street toffee, to the concerned accompaniment of cackling friends, gave the basket to him. A varnished one, for Arthur was indeed diligent. A man who always had the best cars but also the most terrifying cough that put my little heart in my mouth as a boy whenever he burst into one of his explosive, crimson-faced fits. 

Time passed, The Old Duffer hung up his float tube, and now finds his entertainment at his marvelous care home in dominoes, quoits or snakes and ladders, but the reaction to an angling tale is always there via a twinkle in his eyes and fleeting smile, "That's good", he'll say, "I like that". 

Slowly, over two years, his tackle has been distributed among the needy, but Arthur's basket?, well that stayed put and, as the ultimate inheritee, it recently came into and under my guardianship. 

On Christmas day that great giver of gifts from the North left me with a dream materialised. 

A split cane rod, or two.



10'-6" of dreamy, historic and quite beautiful, handcrafted exquisiossity by way of J. Aspinall's 'Avondale' float rod (thanks again Andrew!) comprised one half of the pair. Matched with the J. W. Young 'Trudex' centrepin acquired about 2 years ago (thanks Martin!) there was only one conclusion...





The antique rod and reel then magically conjured a single half pound skimmer from a disgustingly-coloured Oxford Canal but it was a lovely if brief session, with a warm glow in the frost and all made possible by the beautifully preserved Arthur's Basket. 

It was only right.








Saturday, 17 October 2020

Early Shot

Challenges remain unsated

A chilling sun illuminates early evening beneath cloud and over land, casting an eye-watering terminal October brightness over the angling day

Soon the sky would be orange, red, purple and unique. A photograph of a scene every day of a lifetime, would be ever-changed, and from minute to minute

The little river. Perfect in every way, wound like a rattlesnake on the move, it's curves carved like inundated lino cuts into the Feldon clays and gravels

Its flow was urgent, its depths compounded and, with a fish-confiding turbidity, the irresistible combination exacerbated the attraction ten-fold

An urge deep within. 

An urge to seek, to confound and trick. 

An urge that would, within minutes, result in a bait descending those depths so gently, so disarmingly, as to tempt the terminally torpid

Silty and shielding, sinuous and yielding. The emotion driven by an autumn flood irresistible. Here was the fisherman. A challenge unsated. 

This barely perceptible river had been an historic champion but could it again, in whatever form, diminished by time and the disregard of humankind? Could she again nurture chub and roach of unimaginable magnificence in her watery womb? 

Those seemingly surreal targets had hung heavy on the angler like a lead-laden yoke. Through innumerable seasons he'd yearned and toiled on its oft-times treacherous or impenetrable flanks

Could a chub of four pounds, or an impossible roach of two, be lying undisturbed below. Could they? 

He was to find out as his quest absorbed the strident confidence of this streamy, if not dreamy, provider and adversary, Warwickshire's lesser-loved River Leam. 

Crouched, eyes fixated; a first sudden rap resonated with the senses. Sight and touch stimulated. A hair-trigger poised. The snatching turned to tug, to pull, to strike, to hook, and was on. 

A slovenly autumn fish, subdued by the progressively chilling substrate through which it slid, offered little beyond the token in reluctantly accepting the duel. Not the bullseye but a surprisingly voluminous occupier of a high-scoring inner ring nevertheless

Thirteen ounces adrift wasn't a shameful starting shot and hope took root

----

Soon, a gentler solution. Finer, lighter, smaller and tighter. Flow subsiding, shade tending to green. The stream was just that. No longer the receding flood

Field maple, subsumed and released, left tattered by the subsiding flood formed a potentially darkened lair. The streaks and whirls of the flow, tickled and teased its leaves from below, while careering past a deeper slack

A gentle flick of that the most irresistible of small river lures - daintily presented, like a petit four drifting, he hoped, to inevitable consumption - barely broke the surface and faded into the fishiness to accept its fate. A fate that proved instant. A fate that proved that perhaps there was hope of the least likely target being present

A chub-like fight, passionate and self-respecting, outshone its predecessor such as to be confounding

At the rim, chub turned to roach. A gasp in shock but there she lie, sparkling and true, one pound of solid previously unsullied perfection



Signs of potential

Would this be the season to be jolly?