It was a late and humid evening as I made my way toward the river, sheep calling out in earnest, lambs stood, staring quizzically at the quiet soul whom passed them by, some roughly nudging their mothers undercarriage in search of milk and a sense of security. After a recent trip without reward I felt more focused and with a mindset which I have not had in a while, something had changed, another part of me had awoken as if dormant for so much time, a primeval instinct, an incessant urge to reconnect with the waterway that many years ago had a guiding hand in germinating my love for flowing water.
The river was low, her watery blouse parched, revealing inner charms, snags reaching out to any angler that might be foolhardy enough to wet a line near them, the evening air was thick with the heady aroma of Balsam merged with that sweet smell you only seem to find by the riverbank, a couple of lusty breaths were savoured, boy did it feel great to be out again! As I settled in my swim owls could already be heard and sure enough a Barn Owl appeared on the opposite bank, swooping low before disappearing over the hedges.
A frugal helping of bird seed was followed by no more than four free offerings, less always being more, patience and observation the real key, as well as knowledge that the water witch can flatter to deceive an angler. As light fades an anglers hope increases, but it is a hope that is tempered with the seasons of fishing and understanding he has accrued, with it the ever changing moody embrace of this waterway.
I sat listening to the night sounds, each one telling a different story, the light crunch along the path behind me told me that a deer was nearby and sure enough this was followed by the startled bark as it picked up my scent, in the distance a shrill cry could be heard and one that never fails to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand on end, dogs cried out in reply to this lustful vixen as its howls faded away as if carried on the light breeze.
I must have nodded off momentarily, my head jerking forward as I looked toward the isotope "crackle" came the reply, the centre pin was startled into action and suddenly clattering off.
A feeling of surging energy was met by the most nightmarish sound of carbon breaking near the reel seat, I looked down dumbfounded, bewildered and more than a little miffed, "why would you break on me now of all times!" Followed by less than eloquent words which tumbled from my lips "fuck it!" I snarled.
A weld was fashioned from rod and hand, eventually the scrap with the occupant at the other end of rod and line was renewed, each lunge gradually weakening my belief that this fish would see the confines of the landing net, after what felt an age and what will probably result in my premature baldness, the most gloriously conditioned barbel was sat in the net.
I felt emotionally spent and sat staring with a mixture of loathing and disgust at the Wychwood Extremis rod that had decided to give up the ghost on me, not once had it been mistreated in the nine or so years of having owned it, in reality I was more annoyed because I loved playing fish on this particular rod.
Having recovered composure, I set about making ready my camera,light and remote control for a photo or two. Having switched the camera light on a whirring sound could be heard, something akin to an Apache helicopter, the sound increased and was joined by three more, Looking at my camera light I could see a rather angry hornet, repeatedly trying to sting this and the camera flash, I didn't need a second invitation to move as rapidly as possible, lifting the fish back into the net and moving out of the swim and resting her in an area without aerial bombardment from what are wasps on steroids.
Heading back to the swim it was obvious that they were now incensed, grabbing my rod rest I took a swipe at the two on the camera knocking them both off and in doing so provoking the wrath of both as they took it in turns to swoop at me, thankfully both swipes with the rod rest proved fruitful and connected with that meaty sound you might expect to hear when timing a well placed shot with a cricket bat. I doused the light, hurriedly grabbed my gear and beat a hasty retreat.
Thankfully this fish went a very long way to compensating for the faulty rod and the hornet squadron. She was thick set, fighting fit and had a glorious colour and tone to her, I went home a happy angler but not without a few more choice words for the rod, which I scolded like a parent chastising a naughty child.