Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or treat?

It must be nigh on forty five years since I first sat by running water with faith, hope and a toy fishing rod given to me by an aunt and uncle. Why they bought me that outfit, complete with red and white plastic 'bob' float in Ross on Wye I have no idea. Nobody in my family fished. But I sat there at the edge of a crystal clear rivulet only inches deep waiting for the float to sink. Even at that short-trousered age of four or five I was aware that the silver paper my dad had put on the hook was a poor bait, and that there were no fish to be seen. That was also the first time I had to make 'one last cast'. I was entranced.

That blind faith and irrational hope that a fish would come along against all the evidence and odds was what I experienced today and sparked this burst of nostalgia for my little metal rod with black plastic rings, handle and integral reel that I can't remember ever 'fishing' with again, although I did play with at home until it eventually broke.

Work had kept me away from the bank for most of the week, the recent night time frosts having pushed thoughts of barbel from my mind when I missed that slim chance last weekend, but I had to get out and wet a line somewhere. I had three options; perch on a commercial, chub on a river, or a speculative roach session on a pit. Reasoning that the roach fishing might be more interesting I set off with that in mind. I also fancied a session sitting in one swim making cups of tea!

With temperatures set to fall once more after dark and my intention being to fish at least an hour after the light had gone I wrapped up well. I also put on the Wychood boots I had bought about three years ago and hardly worn since as they were (are) uncomfortable to walk in. They are warm though, and walking wasn't to be much of an issue. After thirty yards or so I was reminded what is wrong with the boots. It's hard to explain. They simply don't fit where they should. The foot part is fine, the laced up bit is okay. It's the bit in between that flexes. Once sat down and not moving they're great!

These boots aren't made for walking

It being a sunny day there were a few pikers on the water. Two of them fishing the spot I had in mind which rather scuppered my plans. So I started plumbing up a couple of swims past them. There was a lot of floating weed in the margins, and some drifting about, nonetheless it was difficult finding a really clear patch to cast the feeders. After a while I found a slightly less weeded spot a good cast out and put out a few feeders of maggots before attaching the hooks. Further down the bank I could see that there was still pond weed reaching the surface in places. It will be a month or so before the weed is really on its way out.

Two rods fished feeders and maggots, one fished a 10mm pineapple boilie. This third rod was cast out and left in one place while the feeders were reloaded, hooks rebaited and rigs recast at intervals. Even in the 'clear' area I was picking up weed on every retrieve. Admittedly much of it was accumulating once the feeder started moving, but I couldn't be certain the rigs weren't buried.

All marked up

At first the wind was coming out of the north, but I had settled in with a bush to my left and was sheltered from it's chilling effect. All set up and on with the kettle. My brewing equipment hadn't been used since July. This was more than apparent when taking the sugar tub out of my mug revealed and encrustation and some furry stuff. After pondering the health benefits of this I boiled the kettle and poured the boiling water into the mug to stand for a few minutes. Then I swilled it out and wiped round. It smelled clean enough, so the kettle went back on for the first of many brews.

Around three thirty the wind dropped and swung round to come off my back. As the air temperature was starting to drop this seemed to make it feel less cold. I was expecting it to turn really chilly at dusk, but cloud cover had moved in and the temperature held up. It was five to six when I had my one and only indication. A single bleep on the left hand rod that didn't develop into anything. When I wound in for a recast after leaving things to see if a bite might develop the maggots didn't look to have been sucked. I'd tried my tricks but there were no fishy treats for me this Halloween. I gave it another half hour and, all hope having faded, I packed up hatching a plot...

The plot was, as it was still fairly warm, to call in at a car park swim on a river, take the water temperature and spend an hour or two hoping for a barbel. As I headed to the river the car's thermometer showed the air was cooling, the gritters on the road suggested it would cool some more from 4C later. The river was low in level and temperature at a chilly, but not hopeless, 6.3C. Nonetheless I decided to carry on for home.

Things are set to warm up over the next few days. The barbel might be beckoning again.