Greetings folks. I’m going to keep this blog mercifully short as I’m rushing to get ready for another filming trip. The next installment is written but it’s the resizing and laying out of pictures that slows down the whole process so it’ll keep till I get back. So what’s been happening?
Close Encounters Of The Trent Kind
With being away for most of the past month my fishing suffered and I lost touch with the Trent. Returning again I was in for a shock. Not only was the level down a good 18 inches but there was someone else fishing on my stretch! That’s the first time I’ve seen anyone this season. Alas he’d been there since the previous day and had only a few chub to show for his efforts. Of barbel there had been nary a sign.
That didn’t bother me in the slightest as I was there to catch chub anyway, armed with half a gallon of maggots and a bunch of stick floats. There was only one angler on the opposite bank and Sod’s Law being what it is he was fishing directly opposite where I’d planned to fish and to make matters worse he was hurling his feeder a good three quarters of the way across the river so that put the mockers on Plan A.
I moved 30 yards below him and set up in a swim that’s rather boily when the water level is low. Not the ideal choice for fishing a stick but just being on the bank was sufficient to keep my spirits up. Plus the stiff and gusty breeze was going over my head and missing much of the near third. That’s always a bonus.
The day began with great optimism, a good chub on my second run through. Then it died and I couldn’t raise a bite. Folk keep telling me the river is full of silver fish but I didn’t raise so much as a miniscule roach. Maybe they don’t like maggots.
Anyway, I worked the swim and then I worked my way down the next three swims to see if the turbulence was easier down there, but it was all to no avail. So I dropped back and set up a feeder rig, again on maggots.
I sat there, quietly contemplating how uncomfortable the rocks are to sit on when I heard the guy opposite on the phone to his mate. He was saying he’d only had one bite and that I’d had a chub second cast but had disappeared off downstream somewhere. Shows how good this Infinity Camou gear is, eh?
Anyway, I soon had a similarly sized chub on the feeder but as it wasn’t exactly happening and float fishing is more fun, I switched back to the stick.
Eventually I managed to tempt another bite. The float disappeared, I struck and everything went sold. Really solid. Then it moved, ponderously but with purpose. It took several yards of line and then stopped. “Hmmm…” I thought. “Barbel.” And probably a big one.
For five minutes not a lot happened. It just sat there in complete stalemate. I would gain a yard, maybe two, and it would take them back.
After ten minutes it was apparent I was simply not going to be able to bring this fish back up the river to me as I’d hooked it a good thirty yards or more downstream in fast, turbulent water – the heavy stuff that Tidal Trent regulars will be familiar with.
So I rock hopped downstream until I was directly opposite the fish to gain some advantage as now I would be able to apply side strain effectively. Well, if I’m being perfectly honest this had little effect. The fish moved up and down at will, never more than a few yards but as I passed the 20 minute mark, and believe me, 20 minutes is one hell of a long time to be playing a fish on a river, I began to make an impression on the fish as I slowly drew it towards me.
By now my arm was aching and the fingers in my right hand were cramping up. What on earth was I attached to?
Slowly, literally inch-by-inch, the fish came towards me. Nearer and nearer. Then the float surfaced not five yards out, but not for long. Down it went and I grudgingly allowed it to take a couple of yards of line back.
This act was repeated three times, like a chorus:
“Mamma Mia, Mamma Mia…”
“Mamma Mia, Mamma Mia, let me go!”
By now the float was 18 inches proud of the water and very shortly I would get my first glimpse of what I was attached to. This is the knee-trembling time because the moment that whatever I was attached to broke surface, all hell would break loose, but I was ready for it, drag slackened, finger pressure on the spool.
And then the hook link snapped, presumably pinged off on a rock…
I stood there slack jawed. Honestly, I didn’t swear or have a hissy fit. I was simply shell-shocked. That’s the longest I’ve played a fish on the Trent since the days when we’d hook the odd big carp on feeder tactics, but they used to scream off like express trains.
I have played out the scene a hundred times in my head since and it won’t go away. I would do everything the same if it happened again. I did nothing wrong. The hook link was 3.5lb BS, strong for stick float fishing and in balance with the rod which was a power waggler rod designed to match 3-6lb lines.
Submerged rocks are a hazard you have to live with on the Tidal but it is the not knowing that’s been eating away at me ever since. What kind of fish is that strong, that heavy, yet doesn’t run. It was almost as if it was unaware it was hooked.
It could have been a monstrous carp that genuinely didn’t realise it was hooked, but they usually scream off at some point. A pike perhaps? But a pike can usually be led into the bank much more easily than that. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t foul hooked, although of that you can never actually be certain, but foul hooked fish do whatever they want to to some extent and you can tell.
I’m left wondering whether I lost a barbel. Not just any barbel but the biggest barbel I’ve ever hooked. If it was a barbel then it was on a completely different scale and by that we’re talking teens and I don’t mean thirteen or fourteen. Alas I’ll never know.
What joy it would have brought me to land it, but what mystery it adds to the whole equation when you lose a whopper. It’s not just the catching of monsters that makes fishing exciting, it’s the not quite knowing, the frustrations, the disasters and the close encounters.
Keith Arthur was the first guy I heard use the phrase, “That’s why we call it fishing and not catching.” Never a truer word in my book.
Send For An Ambulance
I think I may have been a little unkind to the old ‘Silverfox’ in the last Blog as I’ve discovered a rather unusual syndrome (it’s genuine, too) which he may well be suffering from. It’s called Stendhal Syndrome.
Sufferers become irritated and, in some cases, experience hallucinations when exposed to fine art.
Kind of sums it up, don’t you think?
Wye Valley Wandering
I do wish the Wye Valley was a bit nearer. Peter Smith, owner of the Caer Beris Manor Hotel, was sixty last week and the invitation to his bash duly arrived. It was to be a 60’s party – fancy dress, the lot. Boy this guy knows how to throw a party. The first part, lunch, was a formal affair with a six course meal accompanied by six wines, each chosen to compliment the course. By the time we’d finished the meal I was ten drinks down and quite mellow.
The evening do was at his house which clings like a limpet to a Welsh hillside overlooking the Irfon. It’s a proper party house, too. Designed for entertaining whatever the occasion.
It was fun to see almost everyone dressing for the occasion because it does add to the atmosphere. The music was fantastic and reminded me that I have turned into my parents. The old stuff is better on the whole, well, at least in the popular ‘charts’ end of culture. Let’s face it, who even cares what record is at number one these days? It’s probably a spin off from one of the endless phone in and give us some more of your money TV talent shows, or a soap star having a career crisis.
Or Vera Lynn.
Maybe the old stuff wasn’t ALL great, eh?
I had planned to fish the following day but as a good number of the guests were of a similar disposition I decided to leave it until the end of the month when I’ll be back for another guiding weekend.
One unexpected bonus from the party was an invite to fish a stretch further downstream in barbel country (chub, dace and grayling tend to be more prevalent in the upper reaches). This length is a salmon beat that has never really been coarse fished. According to the invitee, he’s had a go and caught an abundance of barbel, so I’ll have to give it a whirl. Maybe this will make the perfect spot to try for those who extend their coaching weekends by an extra day.
Sure enough the driver’s door had been jemmied and the top of the window frame was leaning out at a crazy angle. To make matters worse – or so it seemed – nothing had been taken. Some idiot had made the presumption that this is Bob’s van so it will be full of expensive fishing tackle that I can steal.
Err, hello. The only thing I leave in my van is the odd smelly coat, leaky waders, maybe a few bags of pellets and a bottle of water. Occasionally I might leave a bank stick or a landing net head but really, there’s nothing worth causing a couple of hundred pounds worth of damage to steal. If you’re that desperate for a coat, knock on the bloody front door and we’ll see what we can do!
As for breaking into the garage where I do keep some tackle, be warned, it’s alarmed, has multiple locks and bolts that Fort Knox would approve of and there’s CCTV, so if you do get in you’ll be identified.
If you’re still daft enough to try just be aware that you will be identified but it won’t be the Old Bill that comes knocking on your door – they’re completely useless and only interested in real criminals like speeding motorists. I wasn’t in the nightclub game for as long as I was to not know a few folk who, shall we say, ‘organise’ things.
Now if anyone can shed light on the cretin who needlessly and pointlessly damaged my van please drop do me an email. It will be a pleasure to pass the details on to an ‘events manager’.
Macca’s New Drawing
I have a mate, well he’s really a mate of a mate, but we’ve drunk long into the night together and we’ve fished a lot of the same distant destinations, compared the films we made and swapped many an email with their bragging right attachments. However, he’s at the extreme end of the hardcore scale when it comes to fishing abroad.
Macca tends to work long enough to amass some cash and then go fishing until it runs out. He didn’t go chasing mahseer in the Himalyas for a fortnight like the rest of us with guides, cooks, masseurs and the like; he grabbed a flight to Dehli, bought a moped and then took himself there. He then spent the next three months living rough, learning the hard way what gear was and was not up to the job.
There ain’t much he hasn’t fished for and he’s caught a lot of big ‘uns, too.
His brother’s pretty talented as well, working as a cameraman for a lot of the big budget Blue Planet type programmes. He was did some of the underwater filming for Catching The Impossible. Check him out at: http://www.johnmcintyre.tv/
Anyway, back to Macca, who happens to be one of the most naturally gifted artists I have ever come across. He’s had no formal training whatsoever but boy, can he sketch with a pencil. I have a drawing he made of me with a barbel proudly hanging on my wall. It is one of maybe only a dozen he’s done in his entire life. That’s right, a dozen. You could never describe Macca’s output as prodigious. He just turns his hand to drawing when the fancy takes him, which isn’t that often. Anyway, he’s just sent me his latest work, a self portrait.
Pretty amazing for an amateur, eh?
You can see more of Macca’s drawings by clicking: http://www.thefishingzone.org/dave_mcintyre_art_gallery.html
In the last Blog I pondered where the Rovers’ next point was coming from as we always seem to be playing whoever is at the top of the League Table each week. Fresh from the encounter with Tottenham we were up against Championship Table toppers Cardiff who have been on fire this week. They’re also a bit of a bogie side for us, too, so the omens weren’t good.
I needn’t have worried. Seventeen minutes in we were two up and coasting. Three welcome points and had it not been for Coventry’s miraculous escape (they mugged us for a point) and the goal that never was (it crossed the line by a yard and the only folk who didn’t see it were the ref and his assistant) at Watford we’d be sat comfortably in a play-off spot now.
Success or failure is so narrow in this division where literally any team can beat anyone. The team that is top now could go down and the team that is bottom could just as easily go up. Could you really imagine Doncaster Rovers in the Premiership?
But this is no time to get carried away. Reading (A) and West Brom (A) followed by a tricky home fixture with Roy Keane’s Ipswich await us after the International break – surely ‘Keano’ will get them on the winning track soon.
In saying that we’ve been doing a bit of wheeler-dealing as the transfer window came to a close and we’ve got Billy Sharpe in on loan for the whole season. Billy was a phenomenon at Scunthorpe but hasn’t hacked it at Sheffield United following his £2m move but it maybe their direct style of football doesn’t suit. We play a passing game, on the floor, so who knows, he might fit right in.
Right, that’s your lot until I get back and make a bit of time.
PS: 2Moans gets 2Barrels next time from the blunderbus of home truths. That’s got to be worth a return visit!