As usual it was a highly enjoyable day catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. I spent most of it helping Mark & co on the club's products stand. It was a nice change this year to just be a helper and not have the responsibility for organising the stand. This year I was also able to spend a bit more time wandering around the hall and checking out the tackle stands. Steve Bown was there demonstrating the excellent BBB alarms, alongside the inimitable Dave Lumb who shared a bit of his knowledge about a rod I hope to be buying sometime soon. Next stand along was Eddie Turner with the full range of gear and some awesome stuffed fish for a backdrop. Across the way was Alex and the Zoota lures stand where I couldn't resist buying another wagtail to replace the badly chewed one in my tackle box. I also bought a copy of John Watson's “Pikers Progression”, a book I've been after for some time. My final purchase was a life jacket from the second hand stall, If I'm not wearing it the kids will be. For the first time ever I even got to see a talk this year, this was by Ian Weatherall who overcame some early nerves to deliver a very enjoyable talk with a few laughs and some cracking photos.
The convention is always a good day but the best part, without a doubt is always the Saturday night. With the day's work over it's time to relax, eat, drink and make merry. My friends and I managed to do all of those things to excess. When not actually fishing, the next best thing has to be talking about it and a beery evening was spent laughing, reminiscing and sharing stories. Big thanks to Steve, Rob & Ian for their company which went on until the early hours of the morning.
We had a days fishing scheduled for the Sunday but we were all a bit worse for wear so there was no rush. A leisurely breakfast, a quick cup of tea then off to the river. Five of us cast rods for Pike, Zander, Barbel and anything else that swum. Five slightly hungover anglers soaked up the autumn sunshine, relaxed, laughed and totally failed to catch a fish of any kind. That's why it's called fishing and not catching.
In the early evening I began the long drive back to Suffolk but before I'd made it to the motorway the car was making horrible noises when I changed gear. I limped back home but there was obviously something very wrong. The M.O.T. proved terminal and to make things more ironic I'd just acquired a new trailer. So now I had boat sitting on a nice trailer but no car to tow it, my first Pike trip of the autumn planned for midweek had to be postponed. What a pisser!
The car is dead, long live the car! Eventually everything fell into place and with new wheels (and more debt) I towed the boat up to its winter home and had my first trip of the season. For once there was no early start and it was midday before I was on the water. The weekend admirals were out in force so my options were limited but I launched easily and headed south, as I neared a favoured area I saw a couple of Grebes so made a beeline for them. I ended up dropping the weights in an area I hadn't fished before but it looked good. Two static deadbaits were chucked out into open water and two others were made buoyant and fished along the reed line. The baits were positioned so any oils and juice leaking out would spread making as much of a scent trail as possible. At least that was the theory!
I spent a couple of hours in this spot before lifting the weights and moving over to a quiet bay from which I've caught a few Pike in the past. Once again four deadbaits were spread out though one was fished close to the reeds. The sun was more evident now, poking through the clouds and the breeze had freshened considerably. I felt more confident here than I had in the first spot and really felt that If I could find fish then I would catch. However after an hour or so in this spot I hadn't located any Pike willing to take a bait so it was time to move once more.
Just a short journey this time saw me sitting in another spot that had produced for me in the past. A bluey was cast into open water, a buoyant Mackerel upwind a Sardine downwind and a Pollan chucked towards the reeds. I made myself comfortable in the bottom of the boat and got some sausages sizzling in the pan. There is absolutely no doubt that they taste best in such circumstances. Just as I was contemplating plan D, I noticed the float cast towards the reeds was on the move, my first take of the autumn and as usual a knee trembling, ring clenching experience. I wound down quickly and bent into the fish and it was obvious straight away that it wasn't a monster, however the first of the new season was soon in the net and I was a very happy bunny. I've never fished anywhere else where a relatively small fish puts such a big smile on my face. It's something I struggle to describe...so I won't try today at least. I gave this area another half hour before making my final move of the day.
I dropped into an open water swim and spread fresh baits around the boat, once again trying to maximise any scent trail they may make. I settled down with a hot mug of tea and watched the first of many sunsets over the reeds and marshes this season. I fished for as long as I could see the floats then quickly tidied up and headed back to base. It's been six months since my last visit and by god it was good to be back!