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It's raining...

Sometimes it feels as though the rain has settled in for the summer. It’s had a good look round (the wettest April to June since records began) and likes what it sees, so it’s hunkered down and is here for the duration.

Fortunately, although the weather may be poor for anglers, it turns out that it’s rather good for angling - at least if you’re prepared. Now I’m a long time fan of the poncho. It’s light, reasonably waterproof, leaves your arms free, can cover the rest of your tackle if you’re scrunched down on a blow-up seat, and I just love the way it packs down to nothing. But for weather like this, when the rains have well and truly come, there’s only one thing that’s going to do the trick - a proper fisherman’s brolly.

Funnily enough, I actually own one but I’ve only ever used in anger on an Irish holiday because, let’s face it, the Irish know a thing or two about rain…it’s why the Emerald Isle is emerald, after all. It works fine but mostly I don’t use it because I can’t be bothered, can never get it set up right, move around a lot, moan, complain, bitch…

This time however, I’d decided to stick, rather than twist, and stay in particular spot all afternoon and evening, so it seemed worth humping the brolly down from the gate, through the field and round the lake to the far side, next to the old tree. Bank was hard as hell and I couldn’t push the brolly stick in so I scavenged round the banks and found a huge fence post, lugged it back round and then pounded that mother into the bank. Job done. Set the brolly up, span the top round till it tilted back nicely to protect me from the wind and then positioned the edge of the brolly flat to the ground. It felt solid enough but the first really hard gust of wind threatened to spin the bastard round. Fortunately I had a spare mini rod rest and the tie cord from the brolly was in exactly the right position - a minute later the whole structure was pretty solid.

In went the maggots and while let everything settle down after all that banging I tackled up with a pike rod, 12lb line, a rubber lure with a single hook and a long soft wire trace. There were decent pike in the lake I’d been told and with no-one around to mock my rotten sink and draw technique, I thought I’d have a go. Half an hour later, pretty wet by now, I’d tried half the lake. I couldn’t understand it. The lure wobbled so enticingly I’d almost jumped in a few times after it myself, but of the pike there were no sign. I leaned the rod against a tree and tackled up the Transformer - 6lb line, size 14 hook, centrepin, double maggot and a small 2BB antenna float. First cast - a small roach. Second cast - a smaller perch. Third cast - another small roach which halfway in is suddenly engulfed by a set of savage jaws. There’s a swirl, the roll of a large white belly and then everything goes slack. I reel in another foot and pike surges up from the bottom again and this time puts a death grip on the roach (which I never see by the way). Now it’s not as if this happened to me before but this time, everything seems to go right. The pike is hooked in the corner of the mouth (God knows how) and feels a bit sluggish - nevertheless, it’s dogged and angry and I’m delighted to see it on the bank and then in the sling. It weights 8lb 12oz which makes it a clear 7lbs heavier than my previous biggest pike. Amazing. It’s a nasty looking brute but I’m chuffed to bits and it goes back fast and in good shape, the hook having fallen out in the net. Phew.

After that it’s a question of enjoying the relative comfort of the brolly, brewing up the kettle (forgot both cup and spoon but a quick trip to the car revealed a plastic water bottle which, when cut in half, makes a serviceable mug) eating a sandwich and catching roach and rudd, one after to the other, virtually day. Here and there a tench takes the bait and tears off like a maniac, feeling twice its size and fighting like one of those demonic Blenheim tench of yesteryear. Magnificent fish they were.

I experiment with a Polaris sliding float which works OK but frankly the bites come so thick and fast (often before the float has settled properly) that I think I could have used the other half of that plastic bottle and I would still have caught fish. One roach weighs 1lb 9oz - but unfortunately by then the sling is so wet that it weighs almost eleven ounces itself. Damn.

As I hopalong through the following day with my arse feeling like I’ve been in the saddle for a week, it’s the final proof that a blow-up cushion may be fine for a couple of hours by the river but it’s no substitute for a proper chair if you’re planning a longer stay. There’s no doubt it was worth it though, as the pictures here demonstrate.

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