Day 1. Fishing for roach on the Avon. Light headed but not a problem, in the dark I have the curious feeling that there are floodlights lighting up behind my head, I turn around and the effect vanishes only to appear once again as soon as I relax.
Feel pleasantly relaxed and co-ordinated, quite precise actually but not nearly so concentrated and determined as usual.
Day 2. Put in an hour or two on the cut after dark. Can't concentrate at all, don't even care much what happens, but it's fun just sitting under a brolly in the wind and rain waiting for bites that never seem likely to materialise. Don't have the determination to sit out another hour even though there's nothing to do at home.
Day 3. Go out for a couple of hours after work and as soon as I cast I'm wondering what the hell I am doing, in fact wonder why the hell I fish at all. This is just preposterous, but by now everything in life is preposterous especially my decision to quit which is actually not my decision at all, it is a decision made by others on my behalf, an unacceptable coercion. I am a free man, with my own free will - so why am I doing this? What sort of man am I?
I should go to the shops right now and buy myself back into the glorious habit and spark up as a sign of my defiance and wear the stains on my fingers as mark of my autonomy, but no, my mind is a seething torrent so by the time I have decided to do one thing the decision is lost in the next tirade, and besides my legs are leaden and are refusing to carry me away...
I can't watch the rod tops because they must be watched, and I must not watch, what must be watched....!
I cannot leave because I must leave and I cannot leave just because I must leave...!!!
I was stuck to my seat in paralysed agonised inertia, I'd turned to stone...
I'd become, a garden gnome.
Day 4. Decided that fishing was a very bad idea indeed. Stayed at home and ate all the food I could stuff into my face!
Day 5. Went out with Keith to the Oxford Canal after roach. Wasn't at all sure if I would be able to talk to anyone sensibly to anyone outside the immediate family, who are by now, used to my abstinence induced madness. It was OK but all my words seemed to exit my head way too loud and in a rambling ranting jumble. Keith seemed unperturbed by this being an ex smoker himself.
We found a place out of the worst of the weather and fished the hours around darkness. I'd had a couple of big roach here last year so I was confident that fish would be around and so I elected to fish a fat lobworm on the lead up against the far bank reed beds and float fish maggots out front. All went well until I fixed the starlight to the top of the waggler and on the first cast the bottom of the float pulled out of the body. It was easily retrieved but I could not repair it so decided to break down the float rod and put out two lobworms instead.
I saw no movement of the tip whilst I set up the second ledger rod, but after casting it out and then retrieving the first rod I found that the worm was chomped and sucked. A bite had been missed and probably from a roach. Damn.
Keith fished bread, a bait that I have never ever had a bite from on the canal despite it being a great bait for roach just about everywhere else I know of. I was certain that his float would remain still. I felt confident that having had one bite on worm another would certainly follow if we stayed for long enough. Of course, the bite came as I was standing away from the rods and talking to Keith!
It felt a very good fish, a couple of pounds perhaps? Whooo...
Up it came in the headlights, and indeed it was a couple of pounds...!
Bugger! Not exactly what you need when after big roach especially as zeds have a habit of swallowing lobworms deeply and becoming throat hooked. It was operated upon with surgical precision, the size ten extracted and returned unharmed.
Still, it gave us both an idea that we were soon discussing over a pint in front of an open fire up the Greyhound pub.
If I was to fish two rods with big lobworms on bite alarms for roach and one on float for zander this coming winter then not only would I avoid the crushing boredom of waiting for perhaps one roach bite in many hours but also I would have a trustworthy negative indicator of the actual presence of roach in the vicinity that would be likely to feed at some point in the form of a total absence of zander bites - because it is becoming increasingly obvious that the zander is now the apex predator on these stretches of canal and that roach are very wary of them, avoiding them at all cost even when they've grown large enough to have become immune to attack.
Plus, putting so many rod hours into the fishing after zander was almost certainly going to result in an outsize zed at some point...
Well, such thinking deserves a fag!
"Barman, a packet of peanuts please."