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!

Friday, 1 December 2017

At the time of the gloaming...

It’s a busy time of the year – hard to squeeze in a fishing trip of more than a few hours, so anything is gratefully received. I think they call it being opportunistic. Tackle at the ready and a tub of lobworms to hand. It was just so the other evening.

The Stour is up and down at this time of year, you have to time your trips to perfection…..if you get it wrong you are fishing in chocolate soup, but all the stars were going my way and I arrived with a couple of hours to go before last knockings. The banks were wet and slippery after rain and the wind was up. I knew where I wanted to go as perch were my quarry - I walked with purpose across the fields head down. The wind was biting and thankfully my perchy hole would at least shelter me from its bite.

It never ceases to amaze me that roach love a big lobworm, much more than we give them credit for – I never set out to catch roach on lobworms, but when perch fishing they are the first to take. As the witching hour approaches I am thankful to have caught a few lovely silvery blue darlings of the river.

The light fading and our resident otter makes an appearance and screeches at my outline and is gone. I love them. The fish continue to feed and as the owls start to call in the woods across the river I get that wonderful jaggy sensation as perch takes worm. The wind is deafening, but I feel warm and contented knowing I am the only person here experiencing this joy that is nature…..the sound of nature……..I get back to my car and pour a cup of stewed, sweet flask tea just as the rain makes that wonderful, almost metallic noise as it hits the glass.