Saturday, September 12, 2009

Modern times

After doing some work in the morning I couldn't make my mind up what to do next. Having wasted too much time in deliberation I decided to go barbel fishing (just once more!) and chance a long walk to Buzzard Bend. I'd been listening Farming Today in the morning and the terrible issue of noise pollution in the countryside. People, who claimed to be country folk, were complaining about shooting, bird scarers, church bells and big tractors. It made me wonder what they expect from the world. These sounds are all part of the ambience of the countryside for me. Just like blanking makes catching more pleasureable they make the silence that follows them all the more intense.

Walking upstream the first field that had been lush grass and clover last week, was shorn and yellow. The second was still being worked, the rural idyll hideously shattered by two enormous tractors collecting silage making the most of the continuing Indian Summer. There should be a law against it...

The bend is deep, snaggy, and an easy cast. I leaded around then spodded out some two pints of pellets and the contents of a tin of hemp. Fear not, I hadn't bought the tinned seed. It had been acquired in exchange for some leads and pellets. With the appetisers laid I cast out the main course. A 15mm boilie on one rod and a 10mm boilie on the other, both with their attendant bags of pellets. The ritual bag filling then commenced.

Since seeing the Korum PVA mesh sold in watertight pots I have been keeping mine in a screw top container. The one shown below will hold 20m of mesh, and being clear I can see how much I have left. I leave half an inch of the mesh hanging out when I put the lid on so I can find the end easily.

PVA container

It was quarter to five by the time the baits were out, the sun still shining warm and bright. A kingfisher was having success on the far bank. There are plenty of small fish in the margins at the moment. The silage was gathered in and a natural 'silence' descended once more on the valley. A buzzard mewed, a blackbird chattered its alarm call and flew across the river to disappear into the thick canopy of the wooded bank opposite. The leaves are now showing definite signs of autumn. The air was still, I watched a leaf detach from a branch and flutter slowly to the water's surface and drift equally slowly downstream. Fish were rising noisily.

A lazy, hazy day

The river was low and clear, with it's usually light peaty stain. I was expecting kick-off time to be around eight. I wound the baits in and went for a wander up river. There was a tempting looking run with far bank snags. Not tempting enough for me to move after putting the bait in on the bend. Back in my chosen swim I dropped my rig in the margin to see how obtrusive the braided hooklink was - and took an underwater photo. The hook looks more obvious than the braid to me.

What the fishes see

The baits were recast, but I swapped the big bait rig over to clear nylon. An experiment to see if it would bring me a bite in daylight when the 'highly visible' braid might not. I sat down and swigged from my bottle of pop. Hearing a rustling in the balsam I turned round to be greeted by a fellow angler who enquired how this swim fished as he hadn't tried it. I replied that I hadn't got a clue. "This is the first time I've..." ZZZZzzzzzzz. The small boilie had been swapped for an 8mm crab pellet and a barbel had approved of the change.

Barbel fight differently in deeper water than they do in the shallows. In the shallows they use their power to cover distance at speed, in deeper water they use it to bulldog. This one was bulldogging like a good un. With the river being clear it had glistening brassy flanks. It also looked like it had swum into a big rock as a small fry. A chunky fish even so.

Son of parrot

So much for the braid putting the barbel off. Half an hour later the big boilie was taken. One all to the two rigs in daylight. There was some light cloud overhead, the evening was staying warm. A couple of days earlier I was wrapped up in fleece long before dark. This time I was in my t-shirt until eight.

Sunset in the valley

By the time the next bite came, again to the pellet, I was fleeced-up but by no means cold. The fingerless mittens were still in the rucksack and dew wasn't forming heavily. This third fish gave an unusual bite. A short zuzz on the baitrunner followed by a tapping rod tip. The initial impression when I leaned into it was of a chub. Until it started to take line. At a couple of ounces over nine pounds it was the best, and last, barbel of the session.

As the evening wore on it felt more and more like nothing else would happen. It didn't. I have a hunch that if I had put more bait in from the off, or topped it up as the session progressed, I might have caught a few more. There's no way to prove it though. I packed up at half past eleven and began the fifteen minute trudge back to the car. As I was loading the gear in the car I saw a bright green cricket on the window of the rear door. Prehistoric looking, and larger than I had imagined crickets to be.

I have two choices of route home. The short one through town and suburbs, the long one along motorway and through the flatlands. I opted for the motorway. This was a bad move with a capital 'B'. Before I had reached the end of the slip road I ground to a halt in what was obviously a lengthy tailback. It's less than two miles to the next junction. It took me an hour to get there and turn off - the tailback went on for as far as I could see. The cause was 'workforce in carriageway', four lanes being reduced to one.

Every light in town was on red, reminding me why I take the motorway. At one set I noticed movement at the bottom left of the windscreen. The cricket. It must have crawled along the side of the car. As my journey home continued the cricket carried on creeping. By the time it was in front of me I'd got quite fond of it and didn't want to drive too fast in case it got swept away by the airflow. I entered a 50 zone and it turned head on to become more streamlined. As I hit the dual carriage way I saw it brace its legs. If it had knuckles I'm sure they would have been white. Turning in to the village it started to crawl on to a windscreen wiper. By the time I parked up it had descended the other side. I thought it had an air of relief about it!

The fastest cricket in the west