It’s become a cliché in our little world of angling but there really is much more to fishing than catching fish. Mr T is one of my oldest friends and unusual in as much as our friendship began in pubs and clubs rather than the riverbank. Still Mr T is an angler but spends his time hurling leads into the North Sea in the hope of catching something he can eat. We have fished together before but it had been far too long…
We’d pencilled in a bit of lure chucking once the weather had started to cool and now was the time. We met at 1600 and drove through concrete suburbia straining with the start of rush hour. Half an hour later, concrete roads turned to gravel tracks, Mr T opened the gate on my rural oasis and was totally wowed by the scene in front of him. This beautiful little spot does take people by surprise and I hope I don’t take it for granted.
With a boat loaded I rowed us down the stretch with Mr T trolling a shallow diving Rapala out the back. The sky was clear and bright but the wind was a fresh Easterly which gave me a bit of a workout as I pulled on the oars. I expected a take at any time and this feeling only heightened as we passed into deeper water but still no fish showed their presence. I kept rowing and Mr T kept guiding his lure, by now we were in the area I’d found fish at this time last year, they didn’t appear to be around now. We continued a bit further until we reached shallow water where I dropped a mudweight and made a brew. Time for a rethink? As we sat sipping a Kestrel hovered to the east and Curlew pipped as they flew over to the farmland to the west.
With hot tea inside us we changed to casting lures from the drifting boat, this was always part of my plan but I’d banked on Mr T catching a fish by now, this was still my only goal for the session. I rowed upwind and allowed the wind to take us, Mr T continued with the Rapala while I fished a ‘real eel’ high up above the weed beds. Every now and then I’d row us back upwind a way then recommence drifting and casting but still nothing pulled back. I switched to a Shad and on this I felt a fishy pull but didn’t hook up, this was repeated shortly afterwards and Mr T had something swirl at his lure but we were still fishless.
Time passed and the sun began to sink making the sky a constantly changing canvas of colours. We chatted and laughed, it really wouldn’t matter if we caught but I was still trying hard. By now I’d switched to a Slider and it was this lure that finally done the business, I felt a sharp tug and managed to set the hook this time. The fish was small and soon alongside the boat where it released itself when I grabbed the trace. Job done? No, I wanted Mr T to catch!
I rowed us back upwind and we drifted through the successful area again. There was a splash and swirl, Yes Mr T hooked up! I barked instructions but I didn’t have to, Mr T knew what he was doing. I didn’t want any mistakes here so scooped the fish up in the net at the first opportunity causing a cheer from us both and high fives. We laughed and grinned and I think I was probably the most excited of the pair of us. Back upwind again and on the next pass through the productive area we both moved fish but both failed to hook up. We fished on, gradually working our way back to the slip with the light now fading fast. By the time we made it back to base it was properly dark, we laughed at my inept attempts to position the boat in a fresh cross wind but eventually got everything sorted.
As we drove through tight country lanes we had to slow down for sprinting Partridges and wait while two Deer crossed the road. Sights an angler takes for granted but lovely all the same. We found a quiet pub just off the main road and treated ourselves to a well earned pint. The conversation continued, as ever veering from quite deep to very shallow with everything in between. The setting was relaxed, the company couldn’t be bettered, we both agreed that we felt like settling in for the evening. It was just as well I had my car outside, our drinking history is a long messy one and we are both too old for those kinds of shenanigans now. We made our drinks last in an attempt to prolong what had been a wonderful evening but eventually had to drag ourselves home. Modern life puts value on piles of wealth and fancy possessions, this is bollocks. The most valuable commodities are love, family, friendships and time. I know I repeat myself but times like this are priceless.