Sunday, 13 July 2008

Close to home

I am very lucky to live in a small market town in mid Suffolk, a great rural environment to bring up a family. On the edge of the town is a lake owned by the local council, actually it’s a gravel pit but ‘lake’ sounds nicer doesn’t it? So let’s not spoil the illusion. Anyway, the 'lake' hosts a model boat club at weekends, there is a tarmac path all the way around it, a slightly artificial nature reserve and a fishing club has access to areas on two banks. There are two car parks, two children’ play areas, a food kiosk and it is the number one choice for the town’s dog walkers and duck feeders. I suppose I should feel lucky that my home town has such a nice feature but I can only think as an angler. The lake is my idea of hell and I have never, ever fished it.

Behind the lake runs the river, parts of which are also afflicted by dog walkers and duck feeders but most of it is actually very nice. Narrow shallow runs between deeper bends lined with alders and willows. I was very pleasantly surprised when I first walked this stretch with the kids and I’ve seen some very big Chub, unfortunately these are in the busy stretch competing for bread crusts with the ducks. This stretch of river does appeal to the angler in me but I’d never found the time to wet a line. I’ve fished upstream and downstream of the town but never the bit in the middle, that was until yesterday evening.

The cricket finished around 7pm and as I had no time for any proper fishing this weekend I suggested to Isaac that he and I had a walk along the river, with a lure rod! We started at the busy end of the stretch where a few mentally defective people were still amusing themselves so quickly walked upstream to quieter water. I clipped on an old favourite homemade ½ oz spinnerbait and walked slowly having a cast here and there, buzzing the lure quickly back above the weed or letting it sink in the deeper glides. At first I was disappointed by the lack of reaction from any fish but near the end of the stretch a small Pike shot out of nowhere and missed the lure completely. The Pike disappeared in a boil of water which amused Isaac greatly, he was excited by seeing the fish and wasn’t bothered that we hadn’t caught it.

At the end of this stretch the river becomes part of the back gardens of some rather grand houses and the footpath veers away from its course. I changed lures to a Zoota wagtail and we began to retrace our steps. Soon we were back to the spot where the Pike had shown itself, would we get another chance? Yes a bow wave shot across the river and this time the fish was hooked…..but not for long. “Oh bugger” says I. “You shouldn’t say that, I’m telling mum!” laughed Isaac.

By now I’m feeling defeated, its not going to be our day but I still have a cast here and there on our way back downstream. We stopped at a tight, narrow bend that looked really fishy and second cast another Jack swirls at, but misses the lure. Somehow the braid became tangled around the rod tip so I let the lure fall to the bottom while I untangled it. When I took the slack up again I was pleasantly surprised to find a fish attached, it must have picked a stationary lure up off the bottom. When it became obvious that the hooks were well in, I handed the rod to Isaac and he brought it to the bank. That’ll do for us, time to go home.

When we reached the downstream end of the stretch, Isaac ran off to play on the climbing frame for a few minutes. I couldn’t resist having a cast or two so clipped on a “Tiger” plug, a small alphabet type lure with a flashing red light in it. I put this on thinking one of the big Chub might be tempted but first cast across the front of a weeping willow and another small Pike grabbed it. I held it up for Isaac to see but he’s concentrating on swinging across the monkey bars. By this time the light was beginning to fade, an hour and a bit well spent, time for home.

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