If I had my way the clocks wouldn't go back for the winter they'd go forward another hour. Anyway, I blame the end of British Summer Time for me making a late start for the river. I knew it would be too dark to see the state of the water by the time I got to any stretch, so headed for a length I know well enough to pick a swim on level alone and not have to see the flow patterns as I was expecting the river to be up. It was carrying about three feet. The first cast proved that this was two feet eleven inches of leaves.
My first move had been to walk downstream to check out a swim, then walk back upstream to get a bit of shelter from the wind so I could put my stove on. Having nothing in the cupboards to make sandwiches, and having left it too late to go buy anything, I'd put a pan and a tin of beans in with the stove. Even with six ounce leads on the rigs were dragging round as I polished off the beans. When I'd drunk a cup of flask tea I moved down as I thought the lower swim would be less leaf ridden. It wasn't. If anything it was worse.
When I found a spot where one rig would hold I moved the other rod above it. That held too, but it was fishing very close in. A few light spots of rain fell as I tied up some PVA mesh. I moved camp a little to sit below the top of the bank so I could get some shelter from the almost gale force wind that was blowing upstream over my right shoulder. Although the wind was roaring through the trees on the far bank, their tops almost completely bare of leaves now, it was much reduced in force where I was. The rain got heavier so I put my brolly up. The ground now softer than it had been all summer the pole pushed in easily and I pegged out the guy ropes to hold everything in place.
The brolly was obscuring my view of the downstream rod, and the wind noise meant I might not hear the baitrunner. I dug out an alarm and stuffed it under the rod. A few gusts pushed the rights side of the brolly towards me. It was nothing much. I've fished in stronger winds.
As the night was another mild one, the rain was easing and the rigs were now holding station much better even though the rods were arcing over, I began to feel more confident. Then a gust of wind hit from in front. The brolly lifted on the pole then with a loud crack some ribs snapped and it turned inside out. I've been fishing for almost forty years. I have never had a brolly turn inside out like that and I have fished in conditions when I have had to hold on to brollies to stop them taking off, when they have almost wrapped themselves around me. I was not happy.
Of course as soon as the umbrella exploded the rain eased off. By then I'd had enough. The mortal remains of the brolly were stuffed in my quiver and the rods followed. It had been a short session - less than an hour's fishing time. I don't usually let the conditions beat me. If I'd arrived in daylight I might have found a spot where the leaves could have been avoided for longer. The inverted brolly was just too much for me. I knew that my run of good luck with the barbel would come to an end in ignominious fashion. And it had.
The irony of this umbrella fiasco is that having used the Fibre-lite brolly a few times and being happy with it I had sold my old 50 inch umbrella to an acquaintance who had had his umbrella blow across the river and into a tree last week.
They really don't make umbrellas like they used to. I'll be rummaging out my ancient, and much patched, brolly for next time. It's over fifteen years old now but the frame is still in good nick. The one that preceded it lasted almost ten years if I remember right. I can recall that in the early '90s fishing umbrellas were made in England and the trade catalogues listed spares so they could be repaired - ribs, poles, covers, the works. Not so these days. I've had nowt but trouble with the ones I've bought in recent years. If the covers aren't loose and flappy the locking mechanism fails at crucial moments, the rivets on the 'hinges' fail and now the ribs snap! You'd think someone could make a strong, reliable, not too heavy, fishing umbrella that isn't garish.