The journey was uneventful, half way through august and already there's football on the radio, the kids preferred to sing along to radio1. The forecasters had promised two warm, dry days and a clear night with a fresh wind from the south west. We arrived at the river in the late afternoon and as usual had the stretch to ourselves. The river was down on last week and clearer too but was still fairly high with a bit of pace, it didn't look bad. There was a fair bit of drifting weed but the wind was pushing into the near bank and it would be easy to fish around. By early evening the camp was sorted and the fishing was aided by a team effort. Madison had her creative head on so gave herself the job of groundbait maker, adding ingredients like a chef and giving us a running commentary on what she was doing. No groundbait mix has ever been more lovingly flavoured, mixed and kneaded as this one was. Isaac was chief bait catcher, regularly yanking in Bream, Bleak, Rudd, Roach and lots of Perch of 4 to 6 ounces, yelling “Got one!” excitedly every time. Madison put his success down to her bait mixing.
Meanwhile in between baiting up, sorting tangles and unhooking fish I was rigging up the Zander rods. After a bit of a rethink I'd switched from the CD paternoster to a standard float paternoster rig so I'd be able to angle the rods and keep the line completely clear of the water and avoid the worst of the weed. On the other rod I used a short buoyant lead link and 3ozs of lead on a running ledger rig. Both were baited with livebaits and dropped into clear spaces in mid channel. The children continued fishing for a bit longer then started dropping unsubtle hints about being hungry. Time for a fry up, a cup of tea, sit back and chill out.
The evening was uneventful fishing wise, the children explored the meadow some more then as the light faded returned and sat around chattering. Madison was tired so took herself off into her sleeping bag but Isaac sat beside me asking when the Zander were coming (I wish I knew!) and watching the riverside darken around us. As promised the sky was clear and it was a great night for star gazing. Isaac was really excited by the bats that were flying above us and by the occasional shooting star; “I'm going to wish for thousands of toy clone troopers dad!” By 1045 Isaac was yawning so I tucked him into the tent, his sister was already sound asleep. The paternoster had worked fine but the ledger rod had still picked up a bit of weed. After re-baiting both rods with fresh lives I climbed into my winter gear (never bother with a sleeping bag) and lay down in the bivvy.
I awoke at first light, no alarms had sounded during the night but there was no bait on the ledger rig. The bait on the paternoster was still there though, both rods were re-baited and then it was back to the bivvy. The rigs may not have caught a fish but I felt more confident in them....I dozed off again knowing that my best chance had passed and another blank was on the cards. Next thing I know its about 8am and the children are stirring, demanding breakfast. A cup of tea wakes me up and the morning fry up filled us up. The kids were fuelled and full of energy and spent some time charging around the meadow before settling down to a bit more fishing while I tidied the camp away.
The summer holidays are passing quickly, it would be nice to drop a Zander bait into a different part of fenland one of these days but time probably won't allow it. It's great spending time like this with Madison and Isaac...but a bloody Zander would be nice! But at the moment I'm relying on luck...If I do have another nights fishing the kids won't let me go alone so it will have to be a return to “Our meadow”. Before that it's Isaac's birthday next week and the Ashes.