I hate December. People have been conditioned to leave their brains at home and act like idiots throughout this merry month. I hate the noise that comes out of the radio at this time of year; that commercialised filth is not fit to be referred to as music. Even the Pogues & Kirsty is starting to sound jaded and hearing yet another terrible version of “do they know it’s Christmas” doesn’t make me feel charitable, it makes me want to smash things. I’ve got a decorated tree and a few strings of lights around the house but there’s no way on earth that I’d make my home become visible from space as some aspire to do. It was “wear a Xmas jumper” day last week, well if people want to dress like a twat then fine but I reserve the right not to. Why do people who barely grunt in your direction for eleven months of the year suddenly become super friendly “because it’s Christmas”? The same reason is given when people pour even more alcoholic piss down their throats at this time of year. Having done that to extremes myself I have more than enough reasons to opt out these days. All year we work for “them”, for a wage that is just enough to get us by and then in December we give what little we have left back to “them”. I try to opt out of the whole thing but with a family it’s impossible so I’ve had to endure the town centre scrummage and give a chunk of my hard earned back to “them”. Of course all of this means I’m miserable, according to the sheep. For your information I may well be cynical and sarcastic whilst forced to mix amongst the brain washed masses but when I shut the door on it all I’m perfectly happy thank you. I get what Christmas is all about but I think most of the western world has forgotten.
Another reason I hate December is I rarely find time to do any fishing during this month so I have to grab every opportunity. Having escaped from the bedlam of the dreaded visit to town the lady suggested we go for a walk. I quickly adapted this to a walk along the river with a rod and net so after a quick pit stop we were off and out. We went to what is probably my favourite stretch of my local river, a place where during the eighties and nineties I spent loads of happy days and caught Roach, Rudd, Dace, Chub, Tench, Eels, Perch and Pike. The stretch has changed for the worse over the last twenty years, I wrote about the neglect, abstraction and siltation a few years ago. This area seems to have the highest concentration of Otters in the region too. It’s still a lovely place for a walk though and I’m ever hopeful of a fish or two. So with just a rod, a net and a pack on my back we strolled off.
This stretch just screams Pike at you as all along it there is perfect Pikey habitat, unfortunately there appear to be few fish of any species in residence these days. With the water at normal winter level and just a touch of colour it looked spot on so I clipped on my ‘go to’ lure, the Zoota Wagtail, sadly no longer made. The first swim has overhanging trees on both banks and shallow water dropping off, though to not the depth it once did. Large shoals of Roach, Dace and Chub used to reside here in the winter but not a sign of anything today. Next swim down the river narrows up and once again there are trees on both banks creating a perfect bottleneck for an ambushing Pike. A few casts saw no response and I was thinking of moving when the rod hooped on and it was fish on! It was a small one that gave little resistance but I was forced to stretch out across the marginal reeds to net it. Once in the mesh the fish done all its fighting and I ended up having to do a bit of untangling before the unhooking. I held it up for the lady’s camera then slipped it back into the river.
We continued downstream passed loads of fishy features but with access greatly reduced there were many old holding areas I can no longer get a bait too. A straight run I used to trot baits down has silted up to just inches in places and the old overhanging tree has now crashed down and spans the river. The few swims I managed to fish all looked good but I failed to move any fish. I swapped the wagtail for a homemade spinnerbait and we retraced our steps back upstream, I didn’t catch anything and didn’t care. An hour wandering along a river was novocaine for the soul, I’d left home with little expectation so was happy with that little Pike from my local river.
1995 One from the good ol days.