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It’s amazing how different occurances can transpire to make you miss the start of a fishing season. June the sixteenth. Oh the anticipation! The buzz remains intact even after nearly sixty years. For many anglers the close season is a thing of the past. I still belligerently stand by the rules of yore.

So today is the twenty sixth, ten days late. Ten lost misty lily pad and ochre sky dawn reflections. This year has been particularly challenging; including a few false dawns (overslept,) work, an unusual bout of angler’s apathy, a broken tooth and a knackered ankle. These have all playing their part in my delayed angling forage. But last night I ran through my check list. Put new line on reel. Load tackle in car. Don’t forget the landing net. Check maggots and bait in fridge. Make a sandwich. Get flask ready. Set your alarm. Repeat all above several times. It’s all part of the tingle; the planning. The ritual.

Four am. A raucous awakening. The dog sighs deeply annoyed at the disturbance, but I manage to resist the urge to doze. I am up, dressed suitably in drab greens and browns and await the kettle’s boiling whilst it imitates a jet plane taking off. Outside there is a hint of daybreak in the sky. A hint of promise. I’m going fishing!

The pond is an old clay pit. Back in the 60’s Dick Walker and Jack Hilton; two of angling’s finest ambassadours tested their carp fishing skills here. This was when it was believed that fishing for carp was a complete waste of time- because they were uncatchable. Mike Winter, a local angling legend regaled to me many a story of his encounters with the lake and as I stand and drink in the atmosphere I like to think that somewhere in the swirling mists the ghosts of Dick, Jack and Mike are watching over the lake and perhaps their spirits are flowing through the green tea tinged water.

No carp for me today. I leave them to the barrow boys and their mountain of tackle, tents and electronics. Each to their own. I’m a simple man. A tackle luddite. An old Sealey Nufloat cane rod, speedia reel and a bag with my tin of tackle, provisions for the morning and yes- I remembered the landing net. On my hat I have a Crabtree Society lucky badge (although that tag hasn’t been earned yet!) Rod is assembled, line threaded- eventually, quill float attached, single bb shot near the hook, a couple of maggots- oh sh1t, I forgot the maggots! And as it transpired the luncheon meat as well. Never mind, the tench will love the strawberry flavoured sweetcorn. Even though my dyed red hands from handling the darn stuff will look like those of an axe murderer.

A warm summer scented breeze blows gently into my face as I throw some free offerings close to the lily beds. How quickly a family of moorhens can scuttle their way over to my swim at the sound of a couple of handfuls of ground bait being introduced. The water begins to fizz with bubbles. The moorhens duck and dive and strut around like drunkards looking for a fight. The pecking order for the welcome freebies is strictly observed by all. My inner self fizzed in unison with the rippling water. Each dip and twitch of my ancient quill float heightened my expectancy levels.

Today the tench were not to oblige. They were there, and feeding. Their presence being given away by the telltale trail of tiny bubbles that rose to the surface. Bream though, loved the corn and also my marmalade sandwich which proved an admirable substitute for the maggots. For anyone wishing to know the secret to getting this delicacy perfect, make them the night before. Everything oozes together.

I shall return in the autumn to fish for the large Perch which reside here. And yes, I will remember the maggots- hopefully.

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