Friday, August 1, 2008 Filed in: rivers
The river's taken a bit of a funny turn these days. When Ray and I went this time it was like Picadilly Circus (such a description is relative of course and means that we saw five people over the mile long stretch).
It's certainly odd to approach one of your favourite swims - hanging low, talking in quiet voices as usual - to discover that it's already occupied by a distinguished looking gentleman and his lady friend, sat in camp chairs with a fold up table between them and all manner of Mediterranean style dips and condiments, french bread and champagne, that nice Italian bottled water, sitting looking at the river as if it was a TV. We should have asked them to leave of course, but didn't. They offered to move but there would be little point fishing there now, not with all the ruckus. Anyway, what fish in their right mind is going to fancy luncheon meat after all that camembert.
I started in a swim near the bridge. Once upon a time this was a complete banker. I remember going one season and tackling up where we did this evening - in the shadows of the oak tree - utterly convinced that I'd catch a fish first cast. And I did. I nice chub of about 3lbs, caught a few inches from the bank, by dropping a lump of luncheon meat under the tree. Not any more. The river's sweltering, full of weed, hard to keep a bait visible long enough for any fish to find it.
Little bits of legered crust produced a few gentle tugs but I don't get a proper bite until the sun sinks and an eel grabs a piece of luncheon meat on the retrieve. He's a big one too - about a pound and a half. Then, just as I can barely see the quiver tip, I get a gentle juddering bite that becomes more determined and eventually irresistable. I strike and there's a slow thumping fight which quickly gives up and slides to the surface. It's a bream, the size of a small dustbin lid (with, let's face it, a similar smell) but very welcome. It would otherwise have been my third blank of the season. Maybe I should start counting those eels.