Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Only an idiot

So the weather had wrecked my plans but cabin fever had well and truly descended so I was determined to get out fishing at the weekend.  As forecast the thaw set in on Saturday, the roads were getting back to normal and the tide of whiteness was ebbing.  Sunday looked good, seven degrees would feel like spring after the last week and surely the rise in temperature would get the Pike moving?  The only potential problem was whether the boats would be iced in?
I set off with light already growing as I didn’t feel the need to be driving in the pitch black on roads that had been impassable a few days earlier.  The main road was clear but very wet, there was still a bit of snow laying on the fields. 

Traffic was light and I cruised nice and steady, singing along to Weller.  I turned off the main road and the lanes were full of puddles, snow piled ominously high against the hedgerows.  As I went further the lanes were narrower and the snow piles ever higher and as it closed in around me I began to get a feeling of disquiet.  I arrived at the gate and had a careful look at the track, it looked okay as far as I could see but what lay around the bend?  There was only one way to find out and by the time I did so the track was covered in snow and I was stuck!  I got out for a look, it didn’t seem too bad and sure enough a bit of shunting saw me free again.  Thank fuck for that!

Now I had a decision to make with facts to consider.  The track ahead of me looked okay but just round the next bend, out of sight was a slope and after that still a good half mile that could be in any kind of condition.  There was nowhere to turn round so whatever I decided I’d be reversing out.  Okay it was all thawing so I’d get out eventually but that could take hours.  The only sensible thing to do was to reverse up to the gate, then turn around and go home.  Only a total idiot would try to go any further in these conditions.

So I put the Focus into first and proceeded towards the water; to begin with all was good, however half way down the slope the track was ominously white.  I still didn’t have the sense to go back and at that moment didn’t seem to be capable of doing anything other than keep going, as if in a dream.  Yes the inevitable happened, I got stuck and this time no amount of shunting got me anywhere.  I considered the facts once again; I was stuck in the snow on a farm track miles from anywhere.  I wish I could say this was a one off moment of madness but if I’m honest, ploughing on regardless of the consequences is typical for me.  I cursed my own stupidity and let off steam but all the bad language and hot air failed to speed up the thaw. 

As I sat behind the wheel a bird flew quickly along the track directly towards me, as it got closer it turned into a Sparrowhawk which looked certain to fly straight into the windscreen but lifted at the last moment and skimmed the roof of the car. All I could do now was wait so I opened the boot, found the flask and made a brew.  I dug out the camera and went for a little walk, snapping a Chaffinch in the hedgerow but too slow to catch the rabbits in the field.  The valley looked beautiful but I didn’t have time to capture it all before I heard the sound of an engine.  I met the friendly farmer at the track and we had a good laugh at my predicament.  He assured me that I was stuck in the worst part of the track which was all clear below and everything would thaw quickly.  He was less certain about the state of the water but thought it would be ice free.  With a bit of a push we got the car moving again, “Thanks!” and another good laugh. 
As I approached the water I kept stealing glances but didn’t like what I saw, the upper stretch was definitely frozen, as was the boat yard.  I had no option but keep going, whether I fished or not I’d have to give the track a couple of hours to thaw.  Thankfully I found plenty of ice free water further down so I would be able to have a go from the bank, even if my boat kit wasn’t ideal.

By 0800 I was actually fishing!  I chucked a Lamprey at the far bank, a bluey along the near bank to my left and fished a smelt on a paternoster.  This I cast as far as I could, with the intention of twitching it back a few feet every now and then.  I sat in my folding ‘L’ shaped boat seat on the damp ground but was comfortable enough and more than happy.  The morning had definitely not gone to plan but I was fishing and I was in with a chance.  The water looked lovely with its sleeves of snow and above me I could see blue sky and a glimpse of sun.  I couldn’t resist a laugh.  After half an hour the Lamprey was on the move and I bent into a fish.  It didn’t do a lot except kite to my left and there didn’t feel at all heavy.  Still after everything I was delighted to have a fish on the line and was pissed right off when it dropped off for no apparent reason.  Half an hour later the same float tremored and wobbled again but when I wound down there was nothing doing.

Another half hour passed, I’d just twitched the paternoster and by the time I’d fallen into my seat the smelt was on heading towards the estuary, I had to quickly scramble to my feet again.  This time I hooked the smallest Pike in the water but netted it anyway just to be certain that I could take a cheesy snow photo.  It’s probably just as well as the hooks fell out in the net.  This began a mad hour when the fish switched on.  I had a couple of dropped takes, missed one and lost another but also managed to land a couple more small Pike, both of these were very lightly hooked.

After an hour of inactivity I had a move and had just got all three rods out again when I noticed the Swans had broken off a big sheet of ice which was being blown towards me by the wind.  Five minutes later I was forced to move again.  By the time I’d settled it was midday and if the forecast was correct then I had an hour before a band of rain was due to reach us.  Sure enough the cloud was building and a couple of short showers blew through.  These were enough to convince that sitting on my arse in the rain wasn’t going to be much fun so for the first time this day I made a sensible decision and packed up before the rain got too bad. 

Thankfully the return journey was without incident, the farmer had been spot on, all the snow was gone from the track but the stuff piled high along miles of hedgerow will linger a while longer.  This is supposed to be spring and I was supposed to be in Norfolk!  Will there be time for another go?

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