The Book - A demanding but rewarding read
The Fishing - Well, two out of three ain't bad.
As I pull off the main road and pass through the gate onto the track I go through the same routine, radio off, windows down. I want to hear the sounds of the woods, smell the fresh country air and immediately begin the process of absorption that the lake and it's surroundings demand.
The track is bumpy and long, all carp lakes should be accessed this way, and the last few hundred yards offer a view through trees of the expanse of water that demands so much of m y concentration. It also allows a quick scan of the field where anglers park their cars and bivvy up - empty, just what we want.
An initial scan fails to show any signs of fish so I opt for the swim that produced for me last time, at least I have confidence in it. I put two rods together and despite my intention to cast them across to the far side I baited a near swim next to a dead reed bed, I was here for a session, no need to rush anything.
I then put out a marker float to the line I wanted to fish and set off for the long walk around to the far side with a bucket of bait and a catapult. I came across someone walking on the dam, he was living in a cottage on the estate and had plenty of questions about the fishing and what would happen if he was caught with a line in the water. I spent time explaining the rules and offered a gentle threat that he may lose his tackle (wedding not fishing) if discovered and I think he took the hint, he was nice enough and his dog got on with Harvey so no harm done.
By the time I got opposite my swim I could not find my marker float, it had sunk! It was the only one I had in my bag and I knew it was probably too small with the strong breeze pulling on the line but I also think it would have been visible had I not stopped to talk - bugger. Never mind, I had a good idea where to lob the boilies so did a spot of blind groundbaiting before scrambling back up the sheer bank. In the dappled sunlight I spotted a movement on the ground, a slow worm, a big female gliding through the moss, fallen leaves and twigs. Normally I wouldn't be able to resist the lure of our only legless lizard and I would surely have picked her up for a closer look but I figured she had important work to do and had to go and make some little slow worms for future ground baiters to find, I wished her well and watched her long body disappear in the undergrowth.
Back at base camp and out went the baits and I settled down for the long haul.
Alas it never happened. The carp were nowhere to be seen, not even heard leaping in the night, the lake felt very sleepy. But the spring has landed with a bump and the wildlife was making the most of the sunshine. A cuckoo appeared and called and called for a mate, I was to later see it at dusk as it flew across the lake and back, raptor like in appearance but with a busier flight.
A couple of Greater Horseshoe bats worked the tree line as the sun dipped but they did not visit on the second evening. The number of swallows increased each day and the myriade of song birds in the area made for a fabulous wake up call at first light, a proper dawn chorus that sent the owls back to bed. I love being under canvas at this time of year.
On the second day I put more bait in my near bank swim and put a cane rod together to fish over it. During high summer I would expect the carp to patrol this line but they really aren't moving much yet but I guessed that roach and bream were a possibility and duly put sweetcorn on the hook and waited.
I was led on my bed, I'd put my book down and had drifted off for a while only to be shaken out of it by a run. I'm useless at waking up and staggered down to the rods in a daze and, with its buzzer lights blazing, grabbed the left hand rod and struck. I felt weight but it was lifeless, what's more there was still a buzzer sounding. I had a look around and saw that the cane rod was bouncing and the line was heading off to the left having been cast right, it had crossed the line of the rod I now held. A nifty manoeuvre saw me deftly switch rods whilst furtively looking to see if anybody had witnessed my cock-up and the New Superb bent pleasingly against a running fish. A bit of knitting had to be undone but I soon had a bream in the net. The swim looked like a battlefield.
That was my only bite. I had a few single bleeps as bream inspected a pineapple pop-up later on but all remained quiet and I had to record a carp blank.
I cannot leave without telling you about the book I was reading. 'For All Those Left Behind' by John Andrews (Mainstream publishing) is a demanding read that will embrace the reader in the emotional journey of man coming to terms with the death of his father. It falls well short of morbid but the ghosts that have haunted the author have directed his life for, well let's face it, too long.
The journey he travels is extremely personal but, as it involves fishing, is one that us anglers can associate with. The locations, moods and moments are exquisitely described and the writing just demands to be read. I got through the whole book in a day which for me is almost unheard of.
This is not a book for everybody but anybody would take something away from the experience. I know the effect that my father's death had on me and could relate to that but it also made me wonder about what I may leave behind. I would hate to think that Neil would find it impossible to fish after my death and I shall give him the book in the hope that he can at least get his head around a few things in readiness for that future event. But having said that, he know's he's getting my Chris Lythe reel so maybe that will be enough to get him to the back to the bank.
As the day progressed I encouraged him into the bivvy where he ate his tea but he led between me and the car so that I couldn't sneak off and leave him I suppose. Come bed time he stood looking at me, I knew he wanted something so put some water in his bowl - he drank about a pint straight off. Here we have a dog that can die of thirst next to a lake. He spent the night in and out of the bivvy losing the way in and getting panicky at one point, come morning he looked very tired and a little grumpy. I rang Nicky and she came and rescued him, he trotted off with her without so much as a backward glance and apparently, slept for the rest of the day.