Squelching through fields and along tow-paths in wellington boots before the sun has even risen may seem like insanity to some, but it seemed perfectly sane to me yesterday morning.
I had prepped and packed my rucksack and breakfast the night before, meaning that I could venture forth quickly once my alarm awoke me. It felt good to have planned ahead and to be prepared.
Seeing signs of piscine activity upon my arrival at the locks made me smile. I was happy to be out of doors in the early hours, and the fact that I kept catching myself smile made me realise how much nature means to me.
I fired up my stove and got the kettle on for coffee and tucked into leftover Christmas dinner to break my fast. I also scattered some breakfast for the fish, of which they were only to happy to partake of.
Whilst the coffee was brewing, I set up my rods, preparing them for casting out into the murky water afore me. Buying a rig guide from Carpology has already made such a difference to my fishing, having given me greater confidence with knots, baits, leads and lines. After all, I cannot have my best friend with me all the time to show me the best set up for any angling occurrence. His family would miss him…
The fish were very keen on the bait that I had put out, showing plenty of activity through the murk on the canal. I cast out both rods to where they seemed to be feeding, one midway across the canals span, the other in front of deep weed on the opposite bank.
They were keen to chow down on my bait, but not my hooks, no matter where I cast, my alarms staying silent. I was not unhappy however, as it was glorious to be at one with the elements. I know that there will be more occasions bankside, as the fish now have a taste for my bait. It is only a matter of time before one is in my net.
Hello again folks, I didn’t realise how long it was since I last posted here. Our business has been working really well, and alongside studying counselling (I passed Level 3, and am now on Level 4…), life has got in the way, but in the best of ways…
So, back to the blog. This weekend I’ve been visiting my dear friends and their children in Hampshire. I shared a house with my friend after his partner left him, and my first wife had left me. We had a true bachelor pad, and life was like an episode of ‘Men Behaving Badly’ at times, but it was a wonderful time, and we looked out for each other.
Fast forward many years, and we’re still best friends, and I go down to Hampshire to visit when I can… it’s nice being back in a place I loved living and was happy (even with a marriage break-up and depression), happy days.
On Friday, we went fishing. My friend had booked 24 hours of carp fishing at Willow Park Fishery, which I was really looking forwards to. We were up at ‘Sparrow’s Fart’, which meant being at the gates just before 7:00am. We got the kit loaded into the ‘Tackle Taxi’, sorted my rod licence for the day, and headed off to our swim, ‘Pig Pen’. First things first, we got the rods and nets set up,then baited our swim, then pitched our bivvy (sort of an open tent…), before getting bacon and coffee on!
I only caught my first carp last summer, and it was a fantastic buzz. I’m a bit squeamish about handling fish and slimy stuff, but that will change. Back to the weekend… I learnt so much. How to bait a rig, cast long and short, which baits work, how to tie rigs…
The last few weeks have been quite stressful with work and studying, so spending time with friends at the lakes was a wonderful way to unwind. Being in a beautiful setting with good weather was so calming, even with an A road behind us (partially obscured by trees and fences). The sound of heavy traffic was quickly tuned out, as I simply lost myself in being outdoors, relaxing and seeing if we would catch anything. All of the pressure and worries of the last few weeks evaporated, and I was just being. I was completely in the moment. Such a beautiful feeling.
Later, my friend’s wife and kids came to visit us (after school…), which was lovely, as he had not long caught his first fish of the weekend, a beautiful 19lb 7oz carp, so we could all celebrate together. Our fellow angler also joined us after finishing work for the week, and we could relax again, crack open a beer or two and order pizza! (Luxury fishing, I tell you!) As the gates were locked at 7:00pm, a lovely hush descended upon the lakes, and we settled in for the night, hoping for another catch, but it was not to be… Good company, food and conversation made up for it though. I think we all crashed out around 10:00pm, bivvy doors open to the elements, rod alarm lights twinkling in the night. Bliss.
The following morning was bright and breezy. We were up early, and I got breakfast on, plenty of bacon, sausages and eggs on the stove in a BIG pan, whilst I went off to get my rod licence for the day. Walking around the lakes in the early morning was so good. Quiet, peaceful and relaxing, just being around nature. The morning passed peacefully until it was time to pack up. The rods are always the last thing to get packed, and as my friend was bringing his rods in, a swan caught his line around its leg. The swan was distressed but uninjured, as my friend cares for the wildlife above and below the water, and we didn’t leave the lake until we knew the swan was okay. It was funny seeing folks on the other bank run to get their rods out as the swan cruised around!
We wended our weary way home, but returned a little later as we still had some time left on our day tickets. We headed for the small lake so I could practice short casting and hopefully catch a carp before I went home! We had just baited up with sweetcorn and put some feed out to attract the fish, when I got my first bite! It was great learning how to bring the fish in safely, and the feeling was fantastic as I saw my friend net my first carp of the day, such a buzz. I didn’t get a photo of my first catch, as it was quite small, but I was so proud of myself for catching it. Amazingly, I had literally recast when I got another bite, this carp being much bigger. Again, my friend netted the fish for me, and gently unhooked it, checking it was okay before I took a photo. Beautiful fish, around 8lbs. We slipped it back into the water, and off it swam… Lovely.
I had a seriously funny turn then, feeling like I was drunk. My friend said it was an adrenaline rush after catching two carp so closely together. I definitely felt weird, and had to sit down with his daughter for a while, until I felt more myself… Composure regained, I cast out once more, as I had seen some carp under the deck near the bank, and I was determined to catch one more. They eluded me on one side, so I switched over to the next deck, casting under a tree… Success! My third catch in two hours, another beautiful carp around the 8lb mark. I had a hat trick, and was so happy.
Before I came home yesterday, my friend very kindly gave me some of his much older rods, reels, hooks and weights. We stripped the reels and rewound them with new line. I was very touched by this incredibly kind gesture, as my friend knows of our current financial position, and always helps out when I visit them, be it a takeaway, day tickets or, on one occasion, some fresh coffee to take home. I feel truly blessed to have such a good friend.
I never really thought I’d get into fishing, as it seemed a bit alien to me, but after this weekend, I am hooked (!). The sense of peace at the lakes, allowing me to remove myself from everything is wonderful. Catching fish is a wonderful way to unwind, and I look forwards to learning more about this relaxing past time, and the beautiful creatures at the heart of it.