Where has the summer gone? Since my trip out after Barbel I haven't seemed to have any time to wet a line. I did have one evening at “the Marsh” where the kids caught a net full of Rudd & Roach in between dodging showers. I fished a rod for Tench, a balanced boilie cast to some lily pads which produced a half hearted pull. Apart from sneaking out a few silvers on the kids rod, I blanked. Time well spent though.
Now it's the last week of August and not only is the month running out but the summer weather has vanished too. Two days of torrential rain has caused most people to get a little depressed but apart from missing most of the first day of the fourth test I've actually welcomed the downpour. Plans for the bank holiday weekend included a night session on a fenland river in search of Zander. Normally this would be a regular summer occurrence for the children and I but due to all manner of things we hadn't actually made it this year. Now we had time and for once it seemed that conditions would come right. The cricket was going well too, Trott & Broad's record breaking partnership had put England in a commanding position and who would bet on Pakistan to have the guts to fight back? Listening to TMS on the radio helped the journey pass quickly.
We arrived in the early afternoon; Madison, Isaac and nephew Ollie joined me for our long awaited night session in the fens. The river looked good, nicely coloured with a steady flow. There seemed to be far less weed than a year ago but this could have been due to a foot or so of extra water. Ollie quickly set up a whip and began fishing maggots close to the edge, I mixed a load of groundbait, laced with maggots and sweetcorn which I fed little and often throughout the afternoon and evening. The afternoon was dry and bright but a stiff westerly wind made fishing with light tackle difficult, however Ollie persevered and began catching fish regularly; Roach, Bleak, Dace, Perch and some cracking Rudd to around 8ozs. Madi and Isaac busied themselves re-discovering the meadow and playing in the tent.
With everything sorted out and comfortable I began fishing myself. I set up a cage feeder, stuffed full of ground bait and began lobbing this into the middle of the river. I catapulted about a kilo of pellets into this area along with a few pouches of sweetcorn, corn was to be the hookbait. I hoped to catch Bream as well as keep trickling bait into the swim to pull fish into the area. I soon discovered a problem however, the flood water had dislodged loads of weed and large rafts of the stuff was drifting down river and snagging my line. This was going to make Zander fishing difficult later. I had the radio with me as usual and by this time Pakistan's batting had collapsed for the umpteenth time this summer, in fact by the end of play they were following on.
The afternoon passed into evening and apart from a couple of brief showers things were comfortable. The kids were happy playing in the outdoors, not bothered with fishing so far. Ollie was filling the net with good bait and I was slowly setting up the Zander rods for later. I was interrupted by a take on the feeder rod and bent into what I assumed would be a Bream but was pleasantly surprised by a lovely golden Rudd. It was a good fish too and not being quite sure just how big I decided to weigh it,I was surprised when it tipped the scales at 1lbs 4ozs. Now I'm sure I've caught bigger Rudd than this but I've never actually weighed one so (after checking when I got home) this was actually a new PB. This was followed a short while later by another lovely Rudd which was slightly smaller.
The sky began to darken and the children were hungry so after our usual fried fishing feast I cast the Zander rods out. A paternoster rig and a running leger were baited with good sized livebaits. Ollie too had a paternoster rig baited with a lively and all three rods were placed in mid river to avoid the worst of the rooted weed. Unlike last summer this vegetation wasn't too much trouble but unfortunately the drifting green snot was a pain in the backside, collecting on the line and regularly pulling our baits out of position.
Late august and night falls quickly, Bats began zipping across the meadow and along the river, the cloud thinned and the stars began to twinkle. I still felt we had a good chance of catching Zander as long as we could keep the baits in position for long enough. The youngsters grew tired and settled, giggling into their sleeping bags but Ollie sat up chatting with me. No Zander put in an appearance and with weed still making life difficult my confidence dipped. By eleven o'clock we were tired so settled back into our sleeping bags. No sooner had I got comfortable when the alarm on my paternoster rod sounded. I was quickly up and out and bent into a fish, the tell tale pulses on the rod told the story and sure enough I brought an Eel of about a pound to the net.
The rest of the night saw me cat-napping in between having to get up to strip more weed from the lines and recast. It would have been more bearable if just once when the alarm sounded it signalled a Zander but no. I couldn't just relax in the knowledge that my rigs and baits were doing what I wanted them to do. I couldn't relax so I couldn't rest either. I had plenty of time to think and came to the conclusion I just wasn't enjoying myself. I reflected that I'd be much happier fishing “the Marsh” for Tench and it wouldn't have made much difference to the children either. Visiting the Fens for our family camp-outs has been a kind of tradition and this is the sixth summer we've made the trip. The are several other quiet, pleasant places in the Fenlands where I know I can catch Zander, I need to have a good look around and find somewhere child-friendly before next summer.
I must have dozed off in the early hours as I came round at about 6am it was daylight, well kind of. Heavy cloud, gloomy skies and the westerly wind was even stronger than the previous day. I recast the Zander rods and lay back again without enthusiasm. After a couple of hours spent dozing the kids awoke and demanded breakfast so after a good healthy fry up I began to slowly tidy up our camp while Ollie tried to catch a few more fish. The clouds threatened rain and the wind made holding a rod difficult. My heart just wasn't in it, I wanted to go home which is incredibly rare for me whilst fishing.
Next summer we definitely need a new setting for our summer adventures. Madison and Isaac had a last scamper around the meadow then it was time to load the car and head for home. Switching on the radio I was astounded to hear the latest sorry tale of woe surrounding Pakistani cricket, sadly that one isn't going away.
Monday evening and I still had the itch to get out fishing so I grabbed a net and a lure rod and dragged Shelley out for a walk, to work off the Lasagne we'd just devoured. We started off along the river which was still weed choked despite last week's flood water. This led us to a couple of uninspiring stillwaters where I tried my luck with jigs and spinnerbaits. All the places I cast had one thing in common, no sign of a fish of any kind. Oh well. I don't fish close to home very often and this evening I reminded myself why. We were treated to the sites and sounds of the countryside; a kingfisher, a Heron, rabbits in the meadows and as darkness fell the sky filled with bats.
So that's August all but done and isn't September officially the start of Autumn? The next few weeks will be spent making sure my boat and kit is all ready for the start of the "Pike season". Over the passed six months I've caught thirteen different species of fish but for the next six I'll mostly be concentrating on just the one.