Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Egrets. I've seen a few.

What an appalling blog title. Please don't blame me. They were making awful egret puns on Today on Radio Four the other week! However, I have seen a few white egrets over the last few years when I have been fishing the Trent, in both the upper and lower reaches. Until last night I had never seen one locally (in the North West), but just before dark one flew in to roost in the trees of the steep bank on the far side of the Ribble. I was spending three evenings a week on the Ribble a couple of years back and never saw an egret then. I tried to get a picture of the bird, but by the time I had sorted the camera to get a fast enough shutter speed it had gone deeper into the wood.

An egret yesterday

This was my first session back on the Ribble for almost two years, and it brought back to me what is great, and awful, about the river. The good points are the wildlife and the location. It is a nice place to be once you get higher up the valley. The bad points are that most of the swims involve a fair old hike, and when you get to them the banks are bloody awful. If it's not pebbly, it's sandy (the grit gets into everything), and all too often the bank slopes in such a way that getting a chair level is nigh on impossible. Flat grassy banks are something of a rarity. At least where there are fish to be caught. But that is all part and parcel of the topography of a spate river.

Spate rivers also go up and down like nobody's business. It takes very little rain on the fells for the river to start rising. It can rise rapidly too, a foot an hour is not uncommon, but it can drop just as quickly. Getting the timing spot on can make a big difference to success.

Last night the river looked in good form and was carrying some colour. The day had been sunny and it was a pleasant evening to be out. I didn't get set up until nine though,but had chub knocks immediately. Nothing major, but there were fish around. I wasn't happy with my swim choice, so after an hour I moved. The same thing happened, and with a few minutes of casting out a couple of Tuff1s, with a PVA stocking bag of dampened Hemp and Hali Crush on the hook, I got a typically fast chub bite. As is usual on the Ribble it didn't hook itself. Some days they do, but mostly they don't. This went on for every cast until the mist arrived.

The clear, starry, sky was ominous and sure enough mist was soon rising across the fields, over the water and along the valley. When it's like this the chances of barbel are reduced in my experience. I sat it out until quarter to one, but the loss of the second lead of the session made my mind up. I tramped back to the car glad that I had put my waterproof overtrousers on as the dew was thick on the vegetation.

The session got my barbel head firmly screwed back on, and I'd like to say that it was good to be back on the Ribble, but I'm not sure it was. The valley is a great place, and the river is somewhere to fish for a short session with the chance of a good fish, but my mind kept drifting to other rivers - with shorter walks and more comfortable swims!