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Darkness visible

Having decided to hit the river at dawn, I miscalculate and arrive before the sun comes up. This presents an interesting and immediate problem. I can't see anything.

I have a cigarette and wait for dawn. When it comes I discover that there's a tree in my swim. Not a little bit of debris nudged into the river by the winter floods, but a fully-fledged, bloody great Ent of a thing, roots and all. It's completely changed the way the river works in this stretch. What used to be a slack is now little fizzing torrent, the soft spot below the overhanging tree on the far bank (and how long will that stay now swirls angrily. Everything's different.

Anglers pretend to like change (Oh the way the seasons affect the fish, the difference between the river in Spring, all flighty and full of promise, and its dark sullen cousin in Winter, get the idea) but secretly we hate it. Anglers want their waters to be constant, like a comfortable old lover who, having found moves that work, can be counted on to repeat them every time. Constant waters make us look good. We catch more fish on constant waters.

I glare at the tree in my swim. Unlike Burnham wood, it does not move. I cast downstream and begin to 'work' (I use the term loosely) the bait around the swim. After an hour Sean turns up and we catch up. He leaves around 8.30 and at 10.30, toes frozen, I pack up, having caught nothing, not even the tree.


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