Friday, 6 July 2018

Summoned by Bells

Another fishing season begins…June’s Glorious 16th seems to come round quicker these days just as life’s turning does and the way I notice the changing of the seasons and mark each coming and going on the previous years experience – the joy of reaching a significant age maybe? I just seem to notice it more now – once I felt and looked the youngest of our merry band who meet at this time, as we have always done for over thirty years, and now we sort of look similar – musty, creaking like our cane with age but in our hearts we are young and still miss those who had the happy times with us but are no longer here. We toast them each year and laugh heartily as we recount wonderful tales of joy and friendship.

I have been to the place that calls me so often, at all ages, in all weathers, physically, in my dreams, often alone, with my friends, some of my closest friends and we did realise at the time we were living the dream as we cast our baited hooks for myths and legends. These days it’s just the being there that’s enough. Comfortable in each other’s company and comfortable just listening, sitting, watching and noticing. We almost get enveloped by the place and are growing old like its ancient trees that have witnessed so much of us. Boy and man.

I wouldn’t change the way I see in the new season for anything. I missed one year in pursuit of another quarry and my capture became my wife much to the amusement of my pals – back then as I watched the sparkling sea from our small cliff top tent I toasted them and sent good wishes on the wind. It stays with you wherever you are and with the closing of the eyes you can be walking, watching each footfall in front of the other as you creep quietly over centuries of fallen leaves along a fisherman’s path so familiar you could walk it blindfolded.

I fished last night at another place I hold dearly and have written of fondly in my anglers journal – it was so peaceful and quiet – a sense of quiet I had not experienced for a while. It felt like I was the only person alive, but perhaps not. The hum of insects and fizzing of fish were the only indication that this scene was moving and not still.

My mind wandered to friends who I have shared such days with before and are now fishing more celestial waters – are they here on the light warm breeze? Do they see the float as I do? I like to think so. As the kettle finally boiled and smoke drifted across my pond the wind brought with it the sound of church bells as soft as a hand on my shoulder. It felt reassuring.The float twitched and slid away as floats sometimes have a liking to do on a summer evening…   


Thursday, 3 May 2018

Friday, 20 April 2018

One for the pot?

John Northcote Nash, younger brother of Paul Nash and in many ways long overshadowed by his older brother - but what we do know about JN was his love of nature and in particular fishing - pike fishing.

This picture was taken by Anthea Sieveking some time in the 1960's - the rather gruesome way of holding the deceased fish makes me think it was either for the pot or sadly the compost heap as so many found themselves in less informed and conservation minded times.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

It must be getting better?

Minor victories day by day now. The butter is spreadable and we are having what must be one of the best wild primrose displays in recent years, the birds are louder each day although our gull population do drive me a bit crackers with their incessant chuntering and "goings on" - the joy that is banty eggs, my first this year and a most welcome gift. Small and bursting with flavour. What shall it be? Scrambled on buttery toast? Happy golden days.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Best farming practice? We have always done it this way....

The new trout season started on the first of April - I must admit that this season has seen me more excited than ever at actually getting out and casting a fly for our local wild brown trout. The majority of my local fishing is opportunistic and free, so I not only treasure it, but try to keep more than a lazy eye on what's happening within the river corridor.

Needless to say I haven't been fishing yet. It's the usual thing. Rivers have been up and down like a yo-yo, it has rained endlessly and on the rare occasion and I mean rare that the conditions have been sort of OK I haven't been able to go - so there you are.

The forecast is looking better for next week, so with that in mind I had a quick whizz round some local haunts the other evening. The river was out of sorts and it was no surprise as it had been pouring down all day with more on the horizon. 

I'm no farmer, but I do take an interest in agricultural practices and the farming way of life as live in a rich farming area and I have friends and family who farm. But, some things really do piss me off and it just shouldn't be that way - even by my reckoning as I watched the muck spreader make even more of a mess on a sopping wet field I couldn't help but think what a pathetic waste of time - the whole lot of shit destined at some stage to percolate into the watercourse. The mess that the tractor was making would take an age to put right, talk about looking after your assets!

Just pray for no more rain......

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Rings of apple

The joy of the improving weather is not just about the butter being spreadable for the first time in months, oh no, the pottering and bimbling goes up a gear especially in the garden. I have had a few good pruning sessions this winter and now have enough kindling or starting wood to last a few seasons.

The larger boughs need more effort, so it was a joy to finally saw through the pile and add to the drying pile - as all wood obsessives know, you can never have enough and it will be added to with foraged and found wood over the coming months.

There is also something quite pleasing about the piles of sawdust - the different shades of each species with apple and plum my almost has an orange tinge which is pleasing coupled with its tangy fragrance - I have bags and tins of it - it causes amusement that I keep it, but I do really like it mixed with my maggots when the coarse fishing season begins in June. It takes me back to childhood when all maggots came with sawdust and tackle shops smelt of sawdust, oil, varnish and canvas...heady happy days.  

Monday, 15 January 2018

Pike & Nash

John Nash, pike fishing by Kurt Hutton (1958) 
As I am on a bit of John Nash thread I thought it worth sharing the wonderful picture of JN fishing for pike. This was taken by Kurt Hutton and the bromide print was formerly in the ownership of Ronald Blythe who then passed it on to the National Portrait Gallery.

The wonderful illustration, below, is by Nash and was also from 1958 - a magnificent study which he was commissioned to deliver for a calendar (Benhams of Colchester - printers & publishers). I make no apologies - I have previously shown the picture on the blog.....I am sure you will forgive me for sharing it again, it's an absolute smasher! 

John Nash, Pike, 1958

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Three cheers for Christmas

The annual Christmas pike social is an eagerly awaited day in my anglers diary - to be honest it is not just about the catching of pike for me, but the joy of being out before Christmas when others are rushing about with last minute preparations. The joy of good company, fine pork pie, mince pies, tea, Christmas spirit and all being well a hip flask of medicinal spirit to keep the chill away.

This year did not disappoint - they never do. Always some drama to make then day memorable and this year there was the added spice of a new stretch of the Stour to fish. I have an obsession with the writings and fishermen of the Victorian age and I like to think old Francis Francis and JW Martin would enjoy these days, so I always think of them on such occasions and raise my bankside glass to them - never forgotten.  

The river looked perfect as it had just fined down after the recent heavy rains. We exchanged cards, presents and stories and it was one of those days when watching the nature around us would have been just enough. The pike had other plans though and it was not until later in the day as the light was starting to fade that our bauble like floats twitched as pike started to search out their festive feast...........we had devoured ours and it was their turn now to seek out the spratts.

Much merriment, landing of fish, the drama of unhooking, admiring, nurturing of such a fine species before being gently returned to their watery Christmas home. The glass of Christmas beer I raised to old Esox was very sweet that evening as I sat in quiet contemplation of a day most generous. Three cheers for old Esox and three cheers for Christmas!