Well, I survived another fish-in weekend pretty much unscathed. I certainly avoided any fish but, in my defence, I didn't fish too much (have I told you about my bad back?) but where I did fish didn't produce - even the bit I prebaited!
I started in a swim that has given me barbel on just about every other occasion I've visited it this year but, it was not to be. I only gave it an hour before I had to quit but that's usually long enough to at least get a chub.
I had a mooch around the fishery, visiting the motley crew that had descended. Everybody was optimistic and in high spirits but the river was in dour mood and it was, quite frankly, a bit of a struggle.
Carl landed this perfect little chap
During the evening we mulled over the catches and postulated on the coming day. Saturday is always the day when everybody tries hard so there was much planning and 'bagging' of swims. There was a period of oohs and aahs accompanied by much drooling as Des showed off his new cane rod but, as the evening the evening progressed, the conversation swayed onto other topics and some of the old stories were retold - usually by Carl - and we all had a great laugh. I left at around midnight but Conrad stayed at it until nearly 5am!
Saturday was one of those perfect autumn days, warm and dry with little or no breeze. The river, fining down from a little spate, looked absolutely cock-on for a great day's fishing - alas, it wasn't quite what happened. I met 'Trussers' on one of the syndicate beats where the fish usually gather at this time of year. I'd even pre-fed a pool for a few days and felt confident of action - it didn't come to either of us (sorry Keith)
However, I didn't really give it my best shot. After a few minutes of fishing I had a phone call about some poachers on the day ticket beat. Off I went only to see them just leaving having been given the elbow by Mike Joyce (bless him). Having moved I decided to have a look for casualties i.e. those with the worse hangovers. Last time we had one of these do's I probably saved Eelfishers life with a well timed tin of drink, God he was hanging. Serves him right for drinking so much :-) But this year most of the team looked in fine fettle, even the old night owl himself, Conrad, looked good on two hours sleep as he set about competing with Rich Walker - he failed, of course, but he did catch a few barbel and chub.
Elsewhere, Tony was fast asleep but then he's like that on a good day - poor old sod, he's getting on a bit you know ;-) I woke him up by repeatedly tickling his ear with a piece of grass, hiding behind him as he 'swatted' at it and looked accusingly left and right. I had to bite my finger to stop from laughing - I'm a rotten so and so but I know he'd have done the same to me.
I got a message from my lad Neil. He'd gone onto the day ticket section and had dropped into a good looking swim. A chap new to the water (not one of the fish-in), asked him for local knowledge so Neil suggested his second choice swim (he was going to try it later but was feeling generous), but felt miffed when, an hour later, his new friend told him he's had three barbel to 9.8. Neil finished biteless.
I made my way back to my tackle and fished for a couple of blank hours, even the chub, usually so plentiful, were absent. My back ached so I headed home for a bath and some stretching.
The evening was slightly more subdued than the one before, Scotty looked particularly sheepish as he'd really gone overboard last night and Conrad was almost sober when he left for an early night. Tales of the day's events were swapped across the room, the best fish being two perch of 3 and a 3.5 taken by two lucky chaps. Monty Dalrymple (Jason Speck) had taken a good nine pounder and Rich Walker had four barbel from the swim next to Conrad. Other than that it was bits and pieces until Paul's dad (I can never think of his name), came in late and related his catch of three barbel to 10.5 - the best of the weekend.
Lincolnshire's finest cocktail, Guinness with a Tia Maria chaser
Specky and Tony - man love is a beautiful thing
Another night of beer and banter followed. I love these get-togethers, the fishing really is ancillary -well, it is when you don't catch anything. We may all be getting that little bit older and bits may be dropping off but we will continue to meet up for some time yet and I wouldn't miss it for the world.