Rustiness doesn't even come close. I'm looking at things in the cupboard that are like alien artifacts. Long, slim items, smaller ones that looks like Call The Midwife bicycle baskets, others that are metallic and knobbly, heavy but without apparent purpose. I turn on the light. Hmmm, that looks like a rad. No, a rid. Ahh, I know what it is - it's a rudd. Wait a minute...All this by way of saying that with lockdown (and bubbling with our first grandson and family) I've not bothered any fish since last November. Actually, come to think of it I came home with a dry net then and the time before that. And the time before that.
By the time I arrive at just before 2.00pm, the lake is packed, a socially distanced Picadilly Circus. Unfortunately, no-one's catching very much. In fact the first three anglers I ask have caught nowt. I settle into a likely looking swim with a nice bed of reeds at the far end of the lake, throw in some loose feed - corn and meat - and tackle up. This goes surprisingly well, but since I've been fishing the same way for over 50 years, that's not too surprising. I settle down in the sunshine and await the first bite. Time passes.
For the next five hours, the most exciting thing that happens is that one by one, all the anglers give up and go home. I get not a nudge, not a tickle, not even a line bit. In fact, the only thing that enlivens the afternoon is a wee snake that decides to swim across my end of the lake. Hence the title of this post and hence the ear-worm that sits with me for the rest of the day. (And now, probably with you gentle reader). Anyway, if Vimeo doesn't let me down. Here he is.
But even a swimming snake couldn't save the day in this particular swim, so when I found myself the only angler on the lake, I moved round to the swim shown in the first photograph, baited up and settled down in my chair to make a cup of Oxo. As the minutes passed and my little Trangia stove began to do its work I realised that I was sinking. No, not into a stupor, but into the bank. Sadly, the little rubber feet on my chair were no match for the hollow sogginess of the bank and no matter where I put the chair, it just sank again. I had to rescue the feet (which were sucked into the bank like my wellingtons in that Irish bog) twice. I finally gave up and sat on my shirt. When my backside started to get damp I added my cloth. When the sogginess started to seep through that I started to think about packing up.
At that point, the rod tip shuddered, then shuddered again, before being tugged round in a way that was both familiar and electric at the same time. A short scrap and this little beauty was on the bank, hooked on the outside of the lip, and falling to the worst sweetcorn it's ever been my misfortune to use. After that, I missed a second bite, remembered my soggy bottom, packed up and headed for home.
Rob Beattie is the author of several popular fishing books. He's also a regular contributor to Waterlog magazine.