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Bullocks!

June the 16th. The opening day of the season. The Glorious 16th. A day recognised by all - or at least those in the fishing 'know' - as having almost mythological significance.


Maybe not.

When I went to pick up the maggots for today's session (it's got to be maggots on the 16th, got to guarantee you catch something) yesterday, one of the three lads who were smirking behind the counter in the tackle shop, backs to the customers waiting for the England game to start on a battered old portable telly, asked me what the date was.

"It's the 15th."
"You sure?"
"Of course I'm sure. Tomorow's the 16th."
"What's tomorrow then?"
"The opening of the coarse fishing season."
"That what you want the maggots for, then?"
Sigh.

Even at 7.00am it was already hot. There was a solitary car parked up by the bridge, but Ray swung round into the lane. We intended to head downstream, away from our usual haunts, in search of something different. Ray settled into a swim just downstream of a large tree, while I crept into the next field. No, I was not stalking chub. I was trying not to attract the attention of a pair of large swans who were looking after a couple of cygnets and looking at me very suspiciously. Further into the field were - oh, oh - thirteen bullocks.

They were so sweet. They followed me round as I peered into this swim and that. If I stood still with my back to them, they would get close enough so I could feel their breath on my neck. If I turned, they scattered and then pounded away to the other side of the field before re-grouping and trotting back. Eventually I confused them by nipping over a stile and standing very still on a bridge. They ambled right past me and into the next field so I was able to creep back out without being spotted.

The fishing was fun but hot. First cast came this nice little perch, the first of three. I also caught plenty of small roach and rudd - oh and a tiny chub. At one point the swim went dead and I thought 'I wonder if there's a little pike in the swim?' Next cast I was reeling in a tiny roach when the line zig-zagged off into the lilies. I got him out - a pikeling of about half a pound, but those little teeth sheared through the line before I could get him to the net. Ray caught two of them.

We packed up about 12.30pm by which time I was pink and very hot.

Happy birthday, Dad.


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