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She goes hunting

Not much to report from last night's raid on the river. A couple of fishless hours - one gentle tug - surrounded by slugs which surely move faster when you're not looking at them. The highlight came after an hour when I heard gentle wings over my left shoulder and sat, awestruck, as a barn owl whumped across the river and into the field beyond. The sound of the wings was unlike anything I've ever heard - like angel wings made from cotton wool. Fantastic.

Rain stops, well...everything

At first it looked as though the storm was going to just skim me and then pass away to the south. There was a short, sharp cloudburst, then some gentle rain, and then the sky brightened slightly and everything eased. I was fishing a big bend in the river - shallow on my side until it got about two thirds over, when it became deeper. I fished the deep run on the far side beachcaster style with rod high in a long rest. Cheese paste and luncheon meat.


I was just starting to get bites when the wind changed and drove the storm back towards me. Within minutes it was torrential, like someone throwing buckets of water at you. From horizon to horizon, the sky was iron grey.


I even stuck it out for a while huddled under my poncho, on an inflatable cushion that was rapidly deflating. Then I reeled in, grabbed my creel and puffed up the bank, intending to shelter under the trees. When I got to the top I saw the golfer's hut, a fancy wooden bus shelter affair. Almost as soon as I got inside I was joined by another angler. He hadn't even tackled up yet, poor sod. We chatted and waited for the rain to stop. It didn't. So in the end we walked back across the golf course together as the light failed. Every few minutes sheet lightning burst across the sky.

Then came this eerie wailing which genuinely put the wind up me. Apparently it's some kind of lightning alarm system for golfers, to warn them to stop and take shelter. Anglers don't have anything like that. Maybe it explains the green fees.

Of course, it was my first blank of the season.

No fish


It's been pointed out to me that there isn't enough fish porn on this site. You know the kind of thing. Beefy blokes (of which I confess, I am one) holding massive fish, bellies bulging with beer (the blokes) and boillies (the cyprinids).

So, setting out for the river this morning with conditions pretty much perfect, a new ball of cheese paste glistening in the creel and a song in my heart, I fully intended to correct this omission. In fact, yesterday I nearly wrote a pre-trip entry saying that I was certain I would catch a barbel when I went fishing the next day.

Fatal, naturally. I caught a chub second cast - nice as well, about three and a half pounds - and a gudgeon last cast and nothing in between. I positioned the chub neatly in the landing net, laid a float above him and placed the rod and reel beneath for scale, opened the lens of my Sony and took aim. Whereupon the chub decided it had had enough, flipped itself out of the net and slid gently down the bank and back into the river, making barely a splash. The judges gave him an 8.7.

So here's a picture of some horses I saw in a field on my way down to the river.

Thirty years

The river was alive tonight. The weather was perfect - warm, overcast and thundery - and all the other anglers tucked up safely in front of the television. My plan was to fish and move, fish and move. As soon as I caught something, I'd up sticks and move on to the next swim.


That lasted five minutes. I got a cracking tug first cast and missed it. Second cast I connected, but after a few moments it came off. Fish and move, fish and move. I stayed. What a tonk.

After a biteless half an hour I went downstream. Caught a chub. These chub are shrinking. Two or three seasons ago you could regularly take between ten and 20 fish a season that were 2lb plus...some went over 4lbs. These are good chub for a river this size, but in recent years they seem to have vanished.

To the third swim. This looked fishy. Slightly wider, on a bend, the current slowing down. There are carp and tench in here, you know. But not for me, not tonight. Then, as I was reeling in, there was a swirl and a tug as something took the luncheon meat on the retrieve. A chub? Nope. A pike. Sadly, like the chub, he'd shrunk until he was a perfect miniature pike, right down to the I-know-what-I'm-all-about-how-about-you? grin. My first pike in over thirty years. After that I didn't even mind catching an eel.

Down the estate


I mistakenly identified last night's venue as an estate lake to my friend Sean. Actually, it probably just looks like one - long, thin, shallow, reeded, wooded sides, noisy (animals, not anglers) and a stream at one end. We've caught wild carp there in the past. Hence the attraction.

But I fished unconvincingly. I caught some nice roach and rudd to about half a pound and had plenty of bites, but couldn't quite get into it. Our side of the lake was awash with sunshine until it dipped below the trees and it was hot and uncomfortable; and hard to see the float. It was also incredibly shallow, not much more than two feet where I was. We used to catch a lot of small tench and crucians here but there were no sign of them today. For the last 45 minutes I switched to floating dog biscuit in the hope of a wild carp. Hooking one of these wildies is like lighting the fuse on a rocket.

Good job I didn't catch one, then.

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