Wednesday, 23 November 2016
Between the oak and the beech
These days it's rare for me to have more than one trip specifically after carp in a season. To have had three by late November is unheard of and all three at my favourite haunted pool is something of a rarity - this has not happened since carp fever took a hold in the 1980's.
The traditional June opening was kind to me. The usual frolics and a carp nudging 20lbs was more than I could have hoped for. The fish was caught within three feet of the bank and included a fight full of drama. I haven't used anything other than a float for bite indication for many years now, but on this occasion no float was required. I watched the fish come in to view like a ghost, take the bait, look confused as something was not quite right with this fishy offering of a cockle and then all hell broke loose. The great "BB" once said catching a carp feels like being pulled out of bed in the early hours from a deep sleep by a large grappling iron. How right he was.
I returned in September for a short day trip. It was freezing, I was freezing and thankful for winter apparel of hat, scarf and mitts - nothing stirred. The journey home was memorable following a huge blue moon..........the pool was starting to take a hold on me again, just like it had done many years ago. I kept dreaming of it.
In the days that followed I found my mind wandering. I wandered the fisherman's path I know so well. A tortuous path. I peeped into gaps I have known and fished since my late teens and pictured some of the delights I may encounter.
I had to return. Return before the leaves of autumn disappeared for another year as they always have done and always will do. They were just hanging on as the weather has meant we have enjoyed a fine display this year and The Wizards Cauldron surely has the finest display I know.
A late autumn trip to take in the view would be enough to keep me going through the darkest days that winter has to offer and maybe, just maybe, a fish would feed.
I always travel light and each nook and cranny fished has the most amazing variety of trees all within a rod length or two from where I sit.
The Pulpit has oak, beech, holly, sallow, birch and ash. I can also see an elm and just beyond is a chestnut which drops leaves as big as badminton rackets.
When here I dream and contemplate like I do nowhere else. It is like fishing on the edge of the world, the world hardly exists as this bubble where the nuthatch and bullfinch are the only thing that take me away from my thoughts. It casts its spell again.
The fishing is hard. It always is. Every weather pattern hits this corner of nowhere during my couple of days here sitting in the leaf litter. I move often, tread and creep lightly around the pool and bait lightly. Thoughts of returning home to the roast dinner I know will be in the oven and a welcoming lit stove mean I am in last cast territory.
The pandemonium and sheer exhilaration of my final hour is something only an angler is ever aware of and can appreciate. Three lost fish meant my final casts were frequent and they finally led to two bars of autumn gold. Fish here are hard to tempt, so my two of 17lbs and 16lbs are prized and treasured. Each burst of activity, mumbled curses and gasps of joy shatter the backdrop of quiet that surrounds this place. It leaves me shaking and my heart pumping - grappling irons and the words of "BB" are never far away from me.
I walk the fisherman's path in the gathering darkness with a tawny, rook and raven soundtrack and head for home. A few days later Storm Angus will have dropped every leaf around that hallowed pool. It will now look dark, brooding and black - almost a different place.
As I sit beside the fire telling tales of a mystical pool in a lost landscape to my loved ones I think maybe I'll have one more trip there before seasons end. Just one more.