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Pass and move

It's what modern football's all about apparently...pass and move, pass and move. The Argentians do it rather well, the English seem less bothered. After last night I know which camp I'm in.

Back to the river with Ray, trying out new luggage tactics. A recent dicussion on the Waterlog forums put me in a mind to try the new seat bought for me by my wife for Christmas and so far only used upstairs in front of the portable telly with a glass of red wine at my side. Even I realise that I won't catch many fish like that, so I thought I'd give it a run out.

However, my new found love affair with the Kelly Kettle means that I now carry more gear than usual - the kettle, the base, milk, a cup, spoon, teabags, mini firelighters - and while I'm not going to give it up, it poses problems for an ultra-light angler such as myself. So, I stuffed the reel, milk, spoon and cloth into the tiny pocket in the seat, slipped the dry rolled-up landing net into it along with the kettle base and closed the lot. I then reached for this bizarre utility belt thing I bought from the Friday Ad about ten years ago and have never used - loads of pockets on a thick wide belt - probably designed for trotting anglers who wade to keep maggots in. I decamped legers and hooks and stoppers into a leather pouch and distributed various bits of bait in the other pockets - cheese paste (yes, last season's!) some hideous bright orange American cheese slices which I'd rolled into a ball and frozen along with luncheon meat. Oh and my secret bait. The litre of water went into the back pocket of my waistcoat along with my emergency seat - inflatable cushion - and I was packed.

Horrible. The belt made me look like Baron Harkonnen out of Dune. It was so heavy it kept pulling my trousers down. The kettle clanged against my legs, confused cows followed me down the field wanting to be milked, my hair got in my eyes, I found liquorice rolling papers in one pocket, reminding me of those happy days when I used to puff and fish at the same time.

And some bloke was in Ray's swim. He was a member of the club that fishes the other side of the river and having fished through the hottest part of the afternoon was now packing up, just as things were likely to get interesting. Why do people do that? Why do they turn up at 11.00 in the morning, fish until 5.00pm and then complain because they caught sunstroke but not any fish? What's that all about?

Ray settled in and I plodded on to my June 16th swim, looking for all the world like a pack mule that's learned to walk upright. I threw in some of the Hideous American Cheese and tackled up - 5lb line, quiver tip, link leger, size 4 hook, big lump of cheese paste. First cast I lobbed the bait into a spot between the lilies and the margins that I'd noticed the previous trip. I started to lean back and put the rod in the rest - taptaptaptapTHUMP! Nearly pulled the rod out of my hands. I struck, felt the fish - big - and then the hook came out.

Pass and move, pass and move. Fish and move. Stupidly I stayed and didn't get another bite. It won't happen next time. An hour and a half later I headed upstream towards the big open bend where I was going to fish into darkness. It was a nice spot. Just me, an opening in the reeds, a nice looking pool and a steaming cow pat about eight inches away from the rod rest. When it got dark I was going to have to be careful.

I baited the swim with some more HAC, brewed up, drank the tea and then cast in. Popped the rod on the rest. Ray wandered by heading for the Willows. He'd just gone over the stile when BANG the rod went again and if I hadn't grabbed it, I would have lost it this time. A good short crap later and the result was this chub - certainly over three pounds and probably bigger. The photo doesn't quite do it justice. (I do however really look like that).

Yes, I decided to leave that typo where it was. Of course, I meant to say 'scrap'.

If I could crap chub then there wouldn't be a problem would there? And I'd certainly never blank.

Getting the hook out proved impossible because the chub had wolfed that cheese paste right down, so we cut the line and I was so keen to get the fish back in that I popped it back into the swim by my feet. Fish and move, fish and move.

I didn't get another bite. Ray meantime caught two large chub and an even larger carp, probably a double. Unfortunately, he didn't bring his camera, so you'll have to make do with this.


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?"

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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