Thursday, August 21, 2008

Return to the valley of the slugs

Tuesday saw the gasman decide to inform me that he wouldn't be turning up - half an hour before the last time he was scheduled to call. If I'd known sooner I could have gone fishing earlier. As it was I managed to get down to the Ribble by eight o'clock to find it about three feet up and carrying a nice amount of colour. I spent some time walking the stretch to find a fishable swim, this being a length I hadn't fished in these conditions before, and chose one that looked to have the right pace close in. I elected to fish just one rod as the swim was quite tight, and the amount of grass and weed coming down on the current would have made fishing two rods a bit tricky.

The rain had stopped some time before so I had left the umbrella at home and spent a pleasant evening watching the rod tip. At about ten o'clock it pulled down and sprang back a couple of times as the six ounce lead was dislodged by something other than weed. Sure enough there was a barbel on the end making the most of the flow to take longer than normal to land. Don't let anyone tell you that six ounce leads stop barbel scrapping well. I guessed the fish at around eight pounds while playing it, and stuck to that estimate once it was netted. The scales decided to knock an ounce off though. A nice way to get back into the Ribble barbel after a couple of seasons away from them.

I was less impressed to reacquaint myself with the masses of slugs that inhabit the valley. Not just the big black ones, they come in all hues and sizes. Small white ones, medium grey ones, brown ones. Nice. Not!

Luvverly sluggerly

Wednesday evening I was back, an hour earlier this time, to discover the river had dropped a couple of feet. Such is the way with spate rivers. The colour still looked good, but a change of swims would be in order. Although I was confident the rod tips were stationary until the bats appeared - the light level that gets them on the wing being the same that spurs chub to start feeding. Both the pellet 'snake' and the Tuff 1 were attacked by chub during the hour either side of nightfall. None were hooked though.

This time I had put the brolly in the quiver. Just as well because there were a couple of showers and I needed to tie up some more PVA bags of pellets. The extra dampness had really got the slugs on the move. They must have a really good sense of smell the way they home in on bait. At one point I reached into my rucksack to pick up a tub of pellets to find a big black slug on the tub. Yak! What they were looking for on the inside of the brolly is a mystery. I removed one while I was fishing, two more and a snail when I packed up, fishless, at quarter past midnight.

On arriving home I emptied the car, dumping my rucksack in the hall, then removed my boots and socks before making a nice mug of drinking chocolate to take to bed. Stepping out of the kitchen I felt something cold and sticky between two of my toes. A slug, which was swiftly condemned to a salty end in the bin. This morning there was a silvery trail on the kitchen floor. There's another one on the loose...