Tuesday 12 November 2013


The journey provoked further pessimism.  I left Sussex just after the rush hour on Friday with a very light drizzle. By the time I got to Hampshire there was flash flooding and no signs of it improving. Wouldn't you just know it.
The classical music did its it best to ignore the out of sync tempo of the wipers. But it would be okay, it was my time. I'd surely suffered enough, hadn't I?
Rachmaninoff and co did their best to calm and soothe as I crossed over fabulous southern waterways.
The Itchen, the Test, the Avon and the Stour. A niggling voice of reason that I was passing by rivers with some fantastic fishing repute. Ignoring the doubt, I focused on my quest.

I arrived in the afternoon and walked the southern bank of the beat. The weather had eased a little but being below trees the drops continued to 'pop' like caps on my hood.
The feeder streams spewed their foul muddy sediment into the river, tainting its clarity. Maybe the extra colour might prove to be an advantage. Notice optimism putting in an appearance.
I walked to the bridge and gazed down into the water briefly before scanning the meandering river upstream. I spotted the rise of a sea trout and it did nothing but whet my appetite for the forthcoming adventure.

Facing the setting sun I watched the flickering silhouette of a lone kestrel scouring the hedgerow for that last meal of the day, making the most of the fast failing light.
An abundance of pheasants were  making their way to the wood to roost whilst rabbits emerged to take their places on the headlands like the changing of the guard. A pipistrelle bat flittered and danced beneath the canopy of the trees above me as I reached the car. The night shift were here.

I checked in at the guest house, unpacking and settled in an armchair with a book. I didn't fancy getting changed and making my way out to the pub for a meal so I relaxed  and decided to try an early night.
Notice I said try.
I drifted in and out of sleep. My mind awash with leaping Sea trout and iridescent dorsal fins kiting up shimmering riffles in my reverie. The digital display of the bedside clock appeared to entrap time which caused me to compare it with my phone on several occasions, lest I were party to some bizarre deceit.
I was so comfortable but it might as well been a bed of nails for the rest I got. Tossing and turning in it like a small boat on a raging sea. At 4am I couldn't stand it no longer and staggered my way scratching and farting to the en suite shower.
I thought I'd get a large breakfast  about seven to set me up for the long day but I wasn't fooling myself or anyone else in disguising my eagerness for nonchalance. I slurped a big mouthful of fresh coffee and made short work of two thick slices of toast smeared with bittersweet marmalade before picking up my flask and packed lunch and hightailing it from the door to the car.
The slight drizzle was so fine that would take all day to get you wet but the time I got my waders and suitably attired a heavy downpour had me sheltering beneath a tree whilst I awaited Grahams arrival.
It gave me chance to take in the spectacular autumnal colours around me and ignore the gloom of inclement weather.

Exchanging greetings and tackling up together we discussed the prospects like eager children and made our way upstream to enter and begin our assault with fly rods and czech nymphs.

A while later Graham hooked into a good grayling that gave a good account of itself after realising it was hooked. I made my way up to him unclipping the net from my back as I went. As akin to my vision, the fish hoisted its dorsal in the shallow riffle and surged downstream twisting and turning. In trying to gain control and turn the fish Graham sadly parted company with it.

We both were disappointed  but at this early stage we could at least seek solace in the fact the fish were there, feeding and our tactics worked.

I fished for the morning and well after lunch before taking my first fish. A Grayling of about four inches long.
I felt guilty that I felt no elation. There was no shouting for joy, no whoops and squeals of delight. A real anti climax really. I guess seeing how big Grahams lost fish was so close up, it did nothing but increase my enthusiasm for better results.
After we had sandwich back at the car I decided to change to trotting with a float. I'd wrestled with a nagging voice all morning as I waded upstream. It scolded and criticized me about all the idyllic swims I was wading through and disturbing that were as perfect to trot a float through downstream as you'd be pushed to find anywhere in the country.

On making my way upstream again I made for the swim Graham had lost the good fish in and trotted a light wire stem stick float along the edge of crease and deep glide. I was soon rewarded with a much better tussle and eased it toward my net. This was better, much. A good fish, a very good fish. Here was euphoria and elation. Now came relief, joy and a sense of success. A grin adorned my face which set and no amount of despondent thoughts or inclemency could wash away. I could relax now, I'd done it. Tension dissipated like tears in the rain.

I enjoyed several more fish during the weekend including a beautiful wild trout and I'm pleased that Graham was rewarded with another good fish to placate the annoyance of his lost fish that first day.

With a mix of modern and traditional tackle I had my fill and enjoyed every minute of it. I will be returning for sure.

Monday 11 November 2013



It's been an ambition. No scrub that. It has been a crusade, a passion, a destiny and even a reverie to encounter my first Grayling.
At first my vision was hazy, fuzzy, distant and romantic. It would be special, of that I was certain. I would study and research my quarry. I would be thorough and meticulous in my quest. Much to my wife's dismay it would inevitably involve new much needed equipment. Many more packages in the post, more dilemmas and much, much more frustration and patience. 

Though no fault of my own, my journey would encounter adversity in it's many forms. Bad weather, ill health both my own and my good lady, family members old and new and work secondments. All would play a part in not just frustrating but also driving an unknown quality in me. Patience.
And as with most of us with a piscatorial passion, frustration and patience are inevitable. They are both valuable lessons in our many tireless crusades to pit our wits against our quarry. Frustration being the earliest and easiest in our angling education. And of patience? Well that takes somewhat longer to learn and is much more difficult to master.
I can hardly proclaim to be anything but a learned scholar in that lesson, the proverbial Job I am not.
But I have found the answer to patience, a holy grail if you will. Something to ensure patience an easier and less tiresome teaching. But more about that another time!
As the short prayer goes, "Lord, grant me patience... but hurry!"


At first I romanticized that my first encounter would occur on a befitting somewhat regal and elegant location. A southern chalk stream like the River Test or the Itchen perhaps. 
I made some inquiries, looked at dates in my diary and investigated accommodation, specific fisheries and beats. Even to go as far as reading catch reports. Then I looked at the cost. Then after sharing my findings with my wife, I was 'told' to keep looking or perhaps sell my organs for medical research and she would assist me with the operation 'gratis'. Love knows no bounds. I kept looking.

Almost a year later I spent a fruitless few hours on the River Wye trying to tempt an early summer Grayling with maggot and feeder one afternoon. After procuring my first few Barbel that very morning it might be a tall order but hey, you never know. In it to win it! I achieved what I set out for so I was hardly despondent. And with a different stretch in a different season it may yet be an unwritten encounter.

A well researched and meticulously planned family holiday some eleven months later, saw my next crusade trying to draw my quarry from the River Eden in Cumbria. The cottage by the river was spectacular and my first experience of actually fishing in the water itself was to open an exciting chapter in my angling. Catching small wild browns was fun and being water borne put me somehow closer still to all that angling offers.
The Grayling though, whether it was my own ineptitude or perhaps a little too early for them, proved elusive yet again. Although I did foul hook a Grayling fry in the shallows whilst untangling the mother of all line tangles when my reel parted company with my rod. Inspecting that inch long fry did nothing but add fuel to my already burning desire.

An invite to fish a southern chalk stream for Grayling eighteen months ago was too good an opportunity to pass up. The wait for the winter was spent gathering information and selecting yet more tools in my armoury.
And then it started raining in biblical proportions. The river burst its banks. And it kept on raining. The chance was lost and the season went. Always next year...


I've waited and I've waited.
 The thing I've noticed about waiting a year to catch a Grayling is, the first six months are the worst. After that things go into a bit of a decline.
Sure the menial tasks still fill the void, the grass still needs mowing through the summer. Work and family commitments help to focus on more current intentions. Bills are persistent in dropping on the ironically monogrammed 'welcome' mat from the aluminum portal of doom.
The other thing I've noticed is time slows towards the last few weeks to a painstaking crawl, nerves are on edge fretting about the weather forecasts, organizing gear, pinpointing a weekend and booking accommodation. Emails and phone calls whizzing to and fro. It will have been worth it tho. Wouldn't it? 
My weapons were loaded into the chariot and off I went, following the setting sun... 

To be continued.


Saturday 14 September 2013



After a restful relaxed morning we ventured forth to the river.
My host made promise of revealing a beautiful swim further downstream that just begged to have a float trotted through it.
The overnight rain had left the clay bank a little precarious on approach to the swim. Ones purposeful gait on occasion would give the sudden resemblance of Bambi on ice but when it leveled off through an overgrown dense curtain of trees, nettles and balsam it was somewhat more negotiable. The thick screen masked the river from view until a clearing revealed a splendid sight. It was indeed a stretch of river that took my breath away. Angelic choirs rejoiced again.

 Having done a bit of recce we returned to arm ourselves up with waders and trotting gear back at the car.
As we turned, Dave spotted a huge caterpillar and informed me it was the larva of the elephant hawk moth. I'd not seen one before it was as big as a mans thumb and whose body resembled the trunk of a pachyderm  from which it gets it name.

 Suitably adorned and armed we entered the swim. Dave would fish upstream of me in a shallow stretch that provided access to a deep glide that flowed to an inviting overhang of a large tree.
I was in slightly deeper water downstream that made available the far bank with a delicate underarm cast.


Now I don't profess to be particularly proficient at casting with a centrepin reel. In fact, after observing a few of my attempts, Dave commented that Mr Wallis would turn in his grave if he'd witnessed a few of my efforts. It was competent enough to procure me a few small chublets and a solitary brownie that welcomed my presentation. Maggots and hemp and a few small pellets insured that loose feed would drift downstream at varying depths.


After an hour or so of great fun Dave invited me to try his swim whilst he rested his aching limbs. He had several good  trout and small chub and was content enough to allow me the honour.
The chub were getting bigger with each take depending on how close to the overhanging tree the float was allowed to reach.


I lost track of time and of the quantity of chub caught I was so immersed in euphoria. In no time I had soon got into a routine of loose feeding a few free offerings slightly upstream and allowing my float to trot downstream among the morsels as they flowed past me in the gully of deeper water.
This really was the epitome of a cracking days fishing.
We were treated by the sight of the two peregrines circling majestically overhead. On several occasions a kingfisher rocketed by like an azure missile, each time causing me to freeze and hold my breath at the sight. 


One of my trots through a seemingly fish a go spell produced an unusual avoidance of activity. So much so that questions rattled my conscience  about whether I had any bait on the hook, a tangle perhaps or the presence of a predator in the swim attracted by the activity. As my float got within two feet of the over hanging branches of the tree it dipped suddenly and was dragged beneath the foliage as if by an unseen hand. Having the advantages of being immersed already in the water I was able to coax a much heavier fish out and enjoy a much more equal tussle in open water. In the mean time I gingerly retreated back to grab my waiting net at the near bank. The battle won I eased the chub over the net and scooped my prize. Just under four pounds I estimated.


 There are bigger chub here which, like the barbel, were waiting for the cover of darkness before emerging from their hideouts. I was more than satisfied with my afternoons adventure and fully sated with a really natural approach to fishing with a float. A new experience which I thoroughly enjoyed and will endeavor to replicate at the very next opportunity. We headed back to the car to pack up and took the arduous track passing through several Heath Robinson excuses for gates and made arrangements for meeting up later for a beer and a curry at the pub to resume much nattering, pulling of legs and jovial titillation no doubt.

In the morning I made my way down to breakfast and was pleasantly surprised  to share a table alongside John Bailey who was guiding a couple of lads for the day. I noticed that John looked very tired either he wasn't a morning person or was perplexed by the downpour that awaited him outside the window. I have to concur that the prospect of that didn't do much for me either and I was glad to be making my way home.


I have thoroughly enjoyed myself here yet again and will never tire of returning to witness what natural beauty  this area reveals. I have been blessed to witness spectacular visionary delights. It certainly is very much more than "just a river!"  

Friday 13 September 2013



I've just returned from another pilgrimage to the Wye to fish for barbel and chub in God's own country.
Although not due to meet up with Dave til mid morning I can't seem to avoid arriving at dawn. I'm not sure my estimating time to travel is solely to blame though, I think it's pure unadulterated eagerness and enthusiasm to get up there.

I arrived just after dawn at the bridge at Bredwardine for a stroll along the banks and was pleased to see the water low and clear. On my last visit she was moody, dirty, unforgiving and a little rough with me. All the qualities of a fine mistress. Ha!

I peered over the parapets of the bridge for an unfeasible amount of time taking in some watercraft by observing how the flow reacted to obstacles hidden underneath and how deep troughs and shallow glides were reflected on the surface activity. Something I was unable to do last time up.

Whilst I watched and learned, a builders van passed by me and had seen me looking whilst they were waiting to cross the narrow strip of road. The passenger who had obviously failed to be fulfilled by his discarded copy of the Sun on the dashboard, announced through his open window "It's just a river, mate!" which  seemed to highly amuse him and the driver, their laughter echoing as the van roared up the hill.

As the silence resumed once again I gazed back at the water and observed seven swans gracefully gliding with the current, using their wings as sails which caught the gentle breeze. Looking somewhat elegant and proud to be observed and appreciated.
And further downstream, a dozen goosander's that were making a hasty retreat in a bid not to be.
Across the field some crows were performing aerial acrobatics in an attempt to teach a tatty looking buzzard the error of it's ways.

I was glad to be here and confident that it wasn't "just a river" It was far more to the beholder and somewhere I never fail to get amused.
 It's something that almost all anglers have about them, like a trick up their sleeves, a sure fire bait or a lucky float. A skill that doesn't need to be bragged or talked about but ensures the contemplative angler never goes away empty handed, even tho the fish may decide not to play the game . Far too many unknowing presume that just because we haven't caught a fish that we won't be taking something home.

After seeking breakfast of either.. muesli on toast /a semi skimmed boiled egg/ or a plate of England's finest (delete as appropriate ha!) I met Dave at the Red Lion and transferred some kit to his 4x4 ready to see what would unfold.
The swim he had earmarked as a 'cert' for me looked tantalizing. Despite having to negotiate a steep bank to reach the waters edge, the features in the swim plus the reflected light sparkling on the ripples gave the impression that it had been designed by an angling deity. Heavenly choirs rejoiced Hallelujahs, it was that pretty in the sunshine.



 Once settled in and left with a few recommendations with regard to tactics, Dave ventured downstream to locate in another position.
I took time to set myself up comfortably and absorbed my surroundings before making my first cast.
After only a few minutes my rod tip indicated that the chub approved of my bait selection and I struck without thinking and pulled the hook from the fish mouth. On reeling in I discovered that the normally fail safe quality hook still retained its protective cap and in the relished excitement I had left it on! Oops! Ah well, no one will know, eh?

Once I had removed it and recast I was luckily rewarded with a hefty knock, an indication that a barbel would forgive my prior mistake a lot quicker than my fishing companion would relent.
I had to bully the fish as it neared the sunken tree to my left which had weed adorning its branches like paper streamers. Whilst it rested in the net I prepared the mat and got the camera out ready. I was pleased to get a barbel so early on. Maybe a sign of things yet to come but the first thought to my mind was...it's really been too long since I caught my last one!
When I lifted the net to inspect it I was surprised at its girth. It looked like a heavy fish that wouldn't shock me if it touched double figures but alas, as with cameras, the scales never lie. And they refused point blank to even give me eight lb let alone ten. I was happy with it despite its undernourished demeanor.
After returning it I sat back and let the event sink in. I never like to cast straight back out after a catch, just a few minutes to mark the occasion with some dignity. Time to collect my thoughts and allow my heart rate to return to normality. Rather like eating a boiled sweet, not hurried. It adds to the enjoyment for me.


 The distant sky looked menacing. The kind of sky which my grandmother would regard and announce to be "a bit black over Will's mothers". Her proclamation was suffice to warn of forthcoming rain. She was hardly ever wrong. She could smell it she said.
 The temperature dropped a little and a breeze dappled the surface of the river the peace was disturbed and only a fool would fail to notice a sudden change. It was as if somebody had flicked a switch. I couldn't buy another bite.


A dopping of goosanders flew across my line of sight and I could hear a pair of peregrine falcons calling to each other from high above a distant field.
Without prior arrangement both of us decided to stretch our legs and go see how each other was getting on at exactly the same time. We met  half way and tho, a lone kettle was boiled, fat was chewed, legs were pulled. Thus putting the world to rights. For it is written, wherever two or more are gathered...
To be continued.

Saturday 27 July 2013


 The finest works of art are precious, among other reasons, because they make it possible for us to know, if only imperfectly and for a little while, what it actually feels like to think subtly and feel nobly.
 Aldous Huxley   

No, I have not taken a tab of acid nor vast amounts of mind inducing drugs. Neither have imbibed great quantities of alcohol.
I have recently returned from a trip to Pallington Lakes just outside Dorchester, the idyllic setting for some rather fine works of art by the artist Simon Gudgeon. 

The pieces are placed either beside or actually in the lakes themselves and the surrounding stunning 26 acres provide an organic and spiritual gallery beside the gin clear River Frome deep in the heart of beautiful Dorset countryside. 

Originally it was a fishery and its depths still hold a very healthy stock of fish which provided me with some  visual amusement as I passed between pieces at times. This, along with a plethora of flora and fauna ensured that I was thoroughly entertained.
Now I don't pretend to be an authority on works of art nor do I admit to 'feel' what some artists are trying to say with their  pieces. I could even be so bold as to say that most is a load of old tosh! In fact, some modern art rather amuses me to be classed as art at all. But I know what I like and being married to a sculptor and artist for a few years has at least provided me with some limited knowledge, an eye for line, a preference to materials and a taste of preferred subject matter.

I felt that the positioning of the sculptures  was just as important to the artist as the sculptures themselves and the changes in seasons give the pieces hidden depth and quality all year round. 

Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.

Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang the best.

“Rest and be thankful.”
William Wordsworth 

Parr for the course. Groan.
Reflection adding another dimension.
Cock fight.
Graceful, even a nine feet tall.
Roe deer 

Sometimes, simply by sitting, the soul collects wisdom.
Zen proverb

A rare occurrence: A man getting inside the mind of a women.

I have selected just a few photos for your viewing pleasure but I strongly advise a worthwhile visit if you happen to be in the area. There is lots more to see and Simon is continuously adding work to his collection.


Wednesday 15 May 2013


'Still many a good tune on an old fiddle'

What a difference a day makes!
After bewailing my lot to my friend Dave about a day from hell at work recently he replied with a quote from Van Morrison. "My mother warned me, there'll be days like this!"
It was easy for him, he'd been fishing a lake and had the fortune to land a huge carp with a split cane rod . His day fueled by relaxation and injected with euphoria.
Dealing with a nasty traffic incident and organising a multitude of backlashes from that incident as well as a busier day than usual at work, I was not so fortunate. I had been running on adrenalin and it left me physically and emotional drained.
 It was a case of all hands on deck and everyone mucking in and doing their bit in times of need. Something us Brit's are famous for, keep calm and carry on.

Since I had a much needed day off a day later, I fancied a taste of  what he'd experienced so I unleashed a split cane fly rod I'd been given and hot footed it down my local lake to try and tempt my first trout on it.

I was joined by a colleague who also deserved a treat. 
Steve and his wife have fostered children for many years and give so much of their time showing consideration to needy and problematic children. Giving them so much attention that more often than not forget about their own needs.
Having been fostered many times as a kid and been on the receiving end of their often unrequited love from similar foster families, I saw to it that justice prevailed.
 I had promised him a days fishing, something Steve hadn't done for 30 years since he went with his late father and to say  he was thrilled at the invitation was an understatement. It evoked fond  memories  and at times brought a tear to his eye  remembering his happy childhood. It is something Steve is forthright in trying to give back to the kids he comes into contact with, albeit for sometimes all to brief encounters.
 I know personally that however much desolation and trauma a child goes through, you never forget those moments.
When everything around you seems desolate and barren from love and affection you are able to focus and hold on to those acts of kindness. Outshining everything else which you'd rather forget or not bring attention to.
For me it was being taken fishing and it seemed befitting to help repay Steve in this way.

I'm happy to  report that memories were made as well as rekindled. We both caught fish. A personal first for me capturing my first trout with a cane rod. I can't say it was easy fishing with a cane and I would certainly not manage fishing all day with one. But I think that a lighter and shorter stick would make life easier, maybe a brook rod. Will have to keep an eye out for one in the future.
But much more importantly, Steve had a day off, caught his tea and had some much needed relaxation and time to himself.
 It left him with a smile that he usually gives to those without one of their own. Thanks Steve, you really do make a difference. 

And if I can just add my response to my honorable friend's quote at the beginning....
"From the dark end of the street....to the bright side of the road"  :o) 

Thursday 14 February 2013


 Decided to take myself off for a few hours to my local reservoir this afternoon. I did have my fly rod in the car but decided instead to have a look see first. As you do.
It holds some good fish and I normally try from the dam wall which can be difficult due to the fact that the wind always seems to be blowing in your face. This does tend to turn your leader and tippet into looking like a tree house rope after a while, but it can be worth the extra effort.

I set off for a gingerly stroll around the 2 mile expanse of water hoping to catch sight of the resident Osprey as well as Pochard, Grebe and Tufted ducks that are also regularly spotted here.

I hadn't gone more than 500 yards when I took note of a distinctive silhouette perched upon a post by the floating walkway.

Was it............?
I thought to bring binoculars which gave me a better visual advantage than the pocket sized digital camera I had to take a photo or two with. But it did give me a chance to zoom in, crop and enhance when I got back in the warm.
My suspicions were correct and it was the Osprey resting after a feed. Sorry about quality  but it's best I could do under the circumstances.

It made my day and I hadn't yet fished. I pushed on beaming a smile to myself as I trudged along the dam wall, picking a few swan quills up that had collected there on the way.

Halfway along the dam I witnessed a pair of shoveller's. Further on still I believe a pintail but it was too brief a glimpse to be sure. cut short by a stumble, a cuss and resulted with me muddier than a gamekeepers dog. By the time I corrected myself and brushed the worst of it off the could be pintail was now but a mere pinprick on the horizon!

Pintail! See it?   Me neither....bugger!

Sure footed and steady I plodded on and reached the wooded copse thinned out from a harsh winter. I took a rest in the birdwatching hut where there's a logbook for notable birds of distinction. In among Tuesday afternoon's entries was one sighting of....a Pintail. So maybe, just maybe. Pride restored. Unusual, as it usually precedes a fall! Ha!

The last few hundred yards of the circuit opened up from the copse to reveal a stunning view of the reservoir beneath the foot of the Sussex downs and revealed a lone angler trying his luck. We exchanged a few pleasantries in which he remarked it was nice to have the whole place to fish by himself. We were interupted by the call of a hen harrier as she worked the hedgerows beside us and for me at least, marked a call to time. 
On days like these there is more to take with you than a few trout. I left the lone angler to find out for himself.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

THE QUIET WATERS BY. (Chapter 1, excerpt)


In the late 70's, as soon as the first 'tring' of an alarm clock peeled I would scurry to the bottom of the bed under the covers in a  futile attempt to get a high temperature and thus escape going to school. It never worked.
It signaled the need to adorn a rotten stuffy tie, a stiff collared itchy shirt and donning short trousers regardless of the weather. I then had to cycle uphill for 2 miles to catch a bus for the privilege of  listening to some old duffer talk in a monotonous drone for six hours, only interrupted by a bottle of warm milk, stifling guffaws of laughter because someone had farted or by a piece of chalk thrown at someone for falling asleep.

Looking back in reflection to that seemingly longer journey home, I'm visualizing that young lad trudging up the path oblivious to the fact that he had any benefited from any education at all that day. If you'd have asked me at the time, 'What did you learn today'? I undoubtedly would have replied ... "Nuffink!".
 In fact, suffice to say if it wasn't for telltale stain of ink either on my hands or in the corner of my mouth and a grazed knee you would question whether I'd actually been at all.

However, Saturday morning alarms where another thing and would be met by a whoop of delight.
How I never broke a bone whilst flying down the stairs wrestling into a t-shirt, or hopping in one shoe while fingering the other over my heel in my haste to the shed for 'champion' (didn't everyone name there bike?), Or eating toast while riding  one-handed as I sped down the lane to the village store to collect my paper round deliveries. And how I'd envied those American movies that showed the delivery boy's tossing rolled up papers into gardens! But alas, such behavior would have resulted in a 'thick ear', a slapped leg or worse still, no tip at Christmas! Taking a lollipop offered by the newsagent for my trip home I would speed 'like a streak of lightning flashing across the sky' aboard my 'wonder horse'.
The reason for my haste was for one reason and one reason only... I was going fishing.

The next half hour was spent mixing up flour and water, pilfering a tin of 'green giant, ho,ho,ho!' if there was any, lashing my fishing rod to the frame of my bike and stuffing bits and bobs into my school satchel. Whose contents of schoolbooks, a geometry set and a tennis ball were upended onto my bed to make room for my more important tackle.
 After letting the tap run for ten minutes to ensure the water was good and cold, I would make up a bottle of squash and be away.
 In one pocket I would have stuffed with blackjack's and fruit salads to chew on the way and in the other...? Nothing!
I always had one pocket  purposely left empty for things I might glean from my fishing trip like 'conkers'. That or just because more often than not it had a hole in it, such were the perils that plagued small boys with pockets.

Saturday 26 January 2013

THE QUIET WATERS BY. (introduction/foreword)


During my teens and early adult life I fished mainly ponds and lakes and was joined by several friends and family members along the way. From either lack of time, interest or just convenience I was fishing commercial waters. The fish that I caught from these lakes whilst magnificent, would have a look in their eye which, at the time, one might mistake for disdain. Only now do I realise that the look in their eyes was from their loss of freedom, and was reflected in my own. It is my belief that the inclusion of others was in some way to mask what I was to lose from fishing, replacing that sense of freedom and adventure with good company or adding a competitive streak that was not in my nature and against my principals.
Undoubtedly the places I fished were stunningly beautiful. Most lakes reflected the transformation of the trees through the seasons and the air was filled with skylarks busily bragging how high they were in the summers sky through song. But the lakes were designed for convenience to both the owners and the needs of the anglers. Trees were felled, brambles and nettles were removed and grass was mown to a lawn like length. Not to mention the inclusion of running hot and cold water and toilets on some lakes.

 One in particular that springs to mind would facilitate a kitchen with television and armchairs and freezers and fridges to store bait and drinks in a cabin on the lake. There was an extensive  breakfast menu and it was not uncommon to see the owner wander round with mugs of tea and bacon sandwiches and delivered to the swim of the hungry fisherman. This would cause me to much tutting,  shaking and scratching of my head. With the comforts of home and the shelter of bivvies along with electronic gadgetry signalling fish activity and delivering bait by a boat to precise spots in the lake, for me anyways, would signal what was wrong and what was missing from my fishing. These so called anglers were in all intents and purposes camping in their own gardens and running to mum at mealtimes or at the first clap of thunder.

Whilst fishing during this time I had the pleasure of teaching and introducing friends, brothers, children, nephews as well as reacquainting my father after his long absence from the sport, although not nearly frequently enough  to either of our preference. I was witness to that rekindled magic again but my pleasure was obtained from seeing it in their eyes and not my own. This realisation or mid-life epiphany, call it what you will, would rekindle a spark which in turn would ignite my enthusiasm, eagerness and excitement before I had chance to recast and wet a line.
I needed to break from the comfort of familiarity of lakes and ponds and fish alone on our wild flowing rivers and streams. Whilst this would leave me in unfamiliar territory it would create a hunger for knowledge only sated by getting out there and exploring.
 The teacher would once more become the pupil and the man would become the child again. Another bonus of being a now responsible adult living out his childhood would dissipate the perils of angry bulls, barbed wire fences, hiding from farmers and bailiffs and hopefully avoiding unnecessary dangerous risk taking.
 This time around it would dispel  general consensus of opinion that if I was missing I was probably up to no good.