The England one-day team had made a right meal of beating the Aussies in the final match of the series, signalling a belated end to summer. With no prospect of cricket on the radio until November and the sun heading rapidly for the horizon I risked the motorway, which was almost empty. Down the lane past a patch of mushrooms, a sure sign that the mellow days of autumn are upon us, and off along the bank with my rucksack on my back. The brolly having been left at home so I could sprint to the swims before it got dark. I was wondering where the occupants of the other car in the car park might be when some crows flew up from the 'beach'. My preferred swim would be free. This time I wanted to fish a little further downstream, although I couldn't tell you why.
I hadn't tied up any new rigs, even though I'd opened up a hook on one of them when winding in at the end of my last session. So much for my good intentions. The other rig had managed to tie itself in a knot around the rod and mainline at some point. The rig board was looking bare, but there was one in there with a boilie still attached, so I put that on the rod with the opened out hook and cast it downstream. Then I cut off the other rig and replaced it with one that would take a small pellet and cast it upstream.
There was decided chill in the air, but to save me working up a sweat on the way to the swim I had carried the bunny suit in my chair. Now it was time to put it on - the suit, not the chair. With the river so low and so clear there'd be no action until dark. I'd be safe enough taking my boots off to get the suit on. I was much warmer with the cosy, quilted suit around me but I hadn't laced one boot up when the boilie rod hooped over and the reel spun. I managed to reach the rod without tripping over my feet but the fish cut me off almost immediately. Damn and double damn.
After tying the laces I rigged up again with the original hooklink and bait that had been tangled, and recast. Then I set to tying up a few hooklink before it went dark. It's obvious that I was never a boy scout because I soon ran out of braid, which I had been meaning to replenish for over a week...
I hadn't got the first rig tied when the boilie rod was away again. As soon as I made contact this time I gave the fish no quarter. Mishaps were avoided and a barbel of about seven pounds was unhooked in the net and slid back. It still wasn't dark. I managed to get three rigs on the rig board without further interuption then started bagging pellets. This didn't go undisturbed as the boilie rod was off again. A slightly smaller fish this time. Not yet eight o'clock and three takes.
The frenzy didn't continue. The action was like the night - quiet. Fishing on a sandy/silty bank is nice in as much as there's no slugs to bother you, but the grit gets everywhere. As soon as anything gets wet it's covered in the stuff. Putting reels down has to be done with care so they stay off the ground. Getting the banksticks in securely is a pain too as the silt overlies pebbles. A bit of wiggling around is required to prevent them from toppling over on a take.
The next take didn't come for an hour. I'd been watching the motionless isotopes and decided on a recast. The boilie was missing. No wonder I hadn't had a take. A fresh bait and bag were rigged up and cast out. I went for a stroll along the sand to stretch my legs and had to run back to the rod as the boilie had been taken. The trend is continuing of takes within minutes of casting out. This fish plodded around and even got upstream of me for a while. When netted I thought I'd be needing the camera again. My judgement really has gone to pot. Just under nine pounds, and maybe a little on the thin side.
When the sky cleared it became noticeably cooler. Being a few days after a new moon the stars were bright and there were no features visible amongst the trees on the wooded bank opposite. Then the mist started to rise from the river. As it swirled and thickened my hopes began to fade. Maybe it's a confidence thing, but I don't like mist on the water. A few clouds appeared briefly, the mist clearing, the upstream rod, now fishing two 8mm pellets, tapped. A skinny chub was landed. I hoped the mist would stay away but it came back. I was starting to not enjoy myself. I was starting to be there just to catch those four barbel that would take me to 100 for the season. It was time to pack up before the men in the white coats came to get me. The rods were in the quiver, I spun the rucksack on my back, cast a glance at the water and saw the mist had gone. I resisted the temptation to get a rod out and give it another hour. An early night would do me good.
I'll be attending the PAC Convention this coming Saturday, so I should be getting my act together sorting stuff out for that this week. A rest from the river will do me no harm - if I take one.