Tuesday 9 November 2021

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

I look forward to autumn all year, so much so when it approaches I almost fear it.  Years ago this would have been fear of failure, it is the best time of year, I have to make it count. Now I think it’s fear of it all being over far too quickly, my favourite time of year gives way to the dim, sunless months I like the least, culminating in the annual festival of greed and gluttony.  But while autumn is here I am manage to love every minute spent out in the wild places whatever mood I find the fish in, nowadays it’s the fishing itself that gives me pleasure.  I love what I do.

I do pretty much the same thing every year and the surroundings are familiar but never the same, every year things are different to some degree.  In this fragile part of the world there are pressures of all kinds that grip and twist and shape the waterways.  This autumn has been a proper mind bender but all the more fascinating because of it.

The wildlife is almost as interesting as the fish and this year I managed to see and hear all the usual suspects but also had a proper treat when a very big bird of prey came into view.  I was pretty certain I knew what it was but when it hovered over the water there was no doubt.  Only the second time I’ve seen an osprey in East Anglia.

But for once it wasn't all just Pike fishing!

I had plans to fish but circumstances changed and the weather was shit, or more accurately piss on Saturday.  Sunday I was charged with cooking dinner and after I’d managed to roast a Donald, hack its flesh off and transfer it to plates I felt quite pleased with myself.  Early October and there’s still a couple of hours’ worth of daylight left after dinner so I quickly rummaged in the shed and transferred a few bits to the car.  I assembled a light spinning rod, landing net and a few necessities in a small backpack.  I also loaded an Isaac who fancied a couple of hours wandering in the countryside.  Destination was the river which hopefully would be fresh from recent heavy rain. Fishing with small lures, I wasn’t really expecting to catch much but wanted to check it out for possible future Chub swims?  The day had been bright but typically we headed off into storm clouds and a double rainbow halo.  Thankfully the shower mostly missed us and by the time we left the car, shades were necessary.

We crossed a couple of meadows and then walked downstream along the quietest bit of river path I know.  We got as far as an old lock/bridge which is being restored in some honourable project which is made ironic by the choking river that barely flows through it, even with all of yesterday’s rain.  Here the path veers from the river, Isaac wandered on and I started trying to run lures through what fishable water I was able to reach, working my way back upstream.  I started with a small crankbait but I was drawn to a spinner, a size 6 Ondex and it was with this that I mostly fished.  I did have smaller lures with me but with many tight swims and underarm casts I needed a little weight.

I wandered upstream casting here and there but mostly just walking, there were a couple of pools that looked promising but nothing fishy interrupted my lures.  I did startle something hefty in the undergrowth, it could have been a Yeti but was most likely a Deer.  I approached another old lock cutting expecting more of the same but in a slightly deeper, pacier swim something grabbed my spinner.  A nice Perch soon surfaced and thrashed, I should have extended the net handle and my attempt to swing it in was unwise and ultimately costly.  Oh bugger.  A Rabbit on the other side looked at me nervously but I carried on with renewed confidence, the sun was dipping so the shades rested on my cap, a good time for a predator to feed?  Maybe, if I could actually get near water that was worth a cast.

Eventually I approached a swim where I’d lost a nice Perch on maggots last summer, here a drooping branch bridges the river providing lots of shade.  First cast something actually bumped my lure and the same thing happened on the next.  There was definitely something interested down there but had I spooked it?  The next couple of casts seemed to suggest so but on the next I hooked a fish, another Perch which looked bigger than the one I’d lost so I made no mistake with the net this time.  Isaac had wandered off again so I took a quick picture in the net before plopping it back.  I’d left home hoping to catch ‘something’ while I cased the river and I’d hoped that something would be a Chub or Perch so that was a result.

I fished on until I caught up with Isaac at a small bridge where streams connect, a few casts here and I was done, we turned and headed for home.  A couple of hours well spent, I should do this more often.