I am a person and also a fisherman who believes in superstition and the good luck associated with items, happenings and likings. None more so than the major tool of my past time which is the humble float.
The same old floats come out. Each one loved, fondled and admired over the years and hopefully the years to come - there is the one given to me by Mr Crabtree (Bernard Venables) which is a lovely worn porcupine quill. I am now so scared to use this float that it remains in my float tube as I nearly lost it once. I feel its power rubbing off on my other lucky floats - some hand made by friends, some once owned by dear friends and others gifts from friends. Each one has its own story which sticks to it like groundbait or pond slime.
The last few trips to fish my favourite ancient crucian pond have seen me use a different float on each occasion. Each one a lucky float or one I have taken a liking to along my fisherman travels. There was the small balsa float someone brought into the office along with some of the tiniest porcupine quills I have ever seen - "would you like them?", "oh, yes please, they will be loved and looked after and more importantly they will kiss the water again"...........sometimes lucky floats just find you.
Then there are the gifts from friends which are the best of all - these delightful crucian floats are so delicate they detect the gentle nibblings of dainty feeding crucians. As the writer Arthur Sharp put it in his wonderful book - pleasing in appearance and even more pleasing in disappearance. I can say no better than that.
Something made me reach for that magnificent book Redmire
Pool by Clifford & Arbery (Beekay, 1984) last night. The wind was howling
and the rain was smashing against the windows….that period just before you head
for bed when a read puts you at rest. I had forgotten that the following day,
today, marks the wonderful anniversary when Richard Stuart Walker (Dick Walker,
Water Rail, The Master) caught the then record carp (Clarissa) at 44lbs from
the legendary Redmire Pool in Herefordshire. The fish was caught around 5am on
13th September 1952. It’s a wonderful story, full of drama as the
best stories always are.
I was obsessed with Redmire Pool as a schoolboy, we all were.
Where was it? Did it exist? Who fished there? Walkers record was bettered by
Chris Yates with a fish of 51lb 8oz in June 1980 – I still have my copy of
Angling magazine that my friends and I poured over at school. We couldn’t
believe it, that such a fish existed. The story and accompanying photographs
blew our 12 year old minds away. Who was this upstart to beat Dicks record? If
any of us caught a decent fish the cry would go up, even in the 80’s, “who do
you think you are, Dick Walker” – happy days.
Needless to say, Dick Walker, ever the gentleman, was
absolutely ecstatic that Chris caught the fish and later we would pour over the
excellent articles by CY in the same magazine.
The story brought back many happy memories for me as well – for
I last fished the pool around 2002 and virtually all of my twelve or so trips
to fish there were with my much missed friend Pete. We fished a bizarre trip
during the even stranger “Diedrich” period (1988 I think) when so many
obsessives like us were ripped off and never ever got to fish the pool. We
paid, heard nothing and just went. For we, by now, did know exactly where the
pool was thanks to the book which had been published a few years earlier. I think
Petes parents had actually walked near to the pool or knew a neighbouring
farmer who also confirmed its location. The pool obviously hadn’t been fished
for weeks, possibly months and it rained. It rained hard and the reason Redmire
is named so became obvious – it was like fishing in a bowl of tomato soup.
The original bailiff, an elderly Dave Bufton (who lived in a farm cottage on the estate),
came down and was amazed to see us. He hadn’t seen anyone since the beginning
of the season. He watched me fishing for carp that were feeding by the
dam and uttered the words “thems artful fuckers ‘en um” – he was quite right.
My friend Pete then became the bailiff himself at Redmire – he loved it, I
loved it too as I got to go with him many times just to take in the air, talk
fishing and then go for a pint on our way home. We met some incredible
characters and sometimes, actually quite often, we would visit the pool and
have the whole place to ourselves. It was magical. I’m sure some of that magic
still exists, but for me a lot of it has gone, along with my memories and my friend.
So, for a period last night, I was transported to Redmire
Pool. I was following Walker, him of the magic hat, in real time. I read as he
travelled in pouring rain, arrived and set up at the pool and went to bed in
the knowledge that both he and his friend Peter Thomas were waiting for the day
to break and the hope of catching one of the Redmire monsters….I woke up this
morning happy that they had succeeded.
It's been a great growing year for us - after constructing planters last year, a tad late to grow anything worthwhile we have found it hard to keep up this year. The spuds are Pentland Javelin and wonderful roasted with herbs and oil. We are still cropping, but I have no idea what these behemoth spuds are. The soil to fill the planters was moved from another part of the garden, so these are self-setters.....absolutely huge and the size of rocks. Ideal baking potatoes.
The season of red cabbage or cabbo as we call it has also arrived. It means to me Autumn is nigh and roasts, sausages and all the comfort food is upon us - I am not complaining as there is plenty to make meal times special. The beetroot has been a success along with the peas and beans. The garlic has just been pulled to spend a few days drying in the sun. Hang on, is that a falling apple I hear?