There's not a lot of positive things to say about my last week's fishing attempts and scanning through numerous other blogs I see the story of angler's woe is not mine alone to tell. I tried to get out on that day last week when it was really warm, you may remember it? and I think we all should try because I have a sneaking suspicion that that was the last we'll see of the warmth till May next.
I was after getting my carp point sewn up and thought that with a balmy evening ahead of me I'd have those cloopers eating the crusts right out of my hand. I intended to hop from pre-baited swim to swim so wanted to travel as light as possible. I set up the rod at home, stashed it in the quiver along with a net handle, a whole loaf in the shoulder bag, set of scales and a few bits and pieces and set off on the mile and a half walk along the canal.
As I approached the half way mark I was bombed with a purple shower of foetid ordure when a pigeon perched in the mountain ash (I notice such detail at such times) above opened its sphincter and dropped the processed remnants of yesterday's elderberry lunch on my head.
Thankfully I've recently lost my fishing hat otherwise it would have gotten wrecked.
Anyhow, it is good luck to be shat on by a bird, or so I've heard...
On arrival the lake was deserted excepting a couple of lads playing around on bikes on the opposite bank but not disturbing me or the fish. I chucked out some ripped up slices to likely looking spots. No sooner had I accomplished this task than I looked around to find the lads at my back.
"Caught anything mate?"
"Only been here five minutes lads"
"You paid yet?"
"Whaaht, bugger off...!"
The carp were soon slurping crusts off the top so I put the rod together, impaled a crust, opened the bail arm and cast to the most conspicuously avaricious of them.
I went to wind down but to my utter horror the reel had no handle...!
Up she came and down went the crust in a boil of water...
I had the presence of mind to not strike even as a yell of horror began to build in my chest, but thank God, up came the crust. She'd spat it out!
Just imagine the deep, dark shithole I'd have been dumped in otherwise...
The handle wasn't on the bank and neither was the screw. I thought I must have lost it en-route so I packed up and returned home dejected at my turn of fortune, at having missed possibly the last good crust fishing day of the year, but hoping to find the missing part somewhere along the way. Only at home did I find the missing handle and screw laying on the sofa were I'd lain the quiver before setting off. I'd had the handle collapsed from a previous trip and it had simply worked itself loose and fallen off.
So much for lucky crap.
On Sunday I was at a loss where to go fish. I toyed with the idea of chubbing but decided that they could wait a while yet, even considered zandering, even piking but had too few deadbaits in the freezer and no way of buying any in so I eventually decided that I'd target barbel at Lucy's Mill as I'd caught one last week, needed to get the ball rolling with an autumn barbel campaign anyway and couldn't think of anything better to do, quite frankly.
It was a pleasant day at ten o'clock and I'd not checked the weather forecast so I was under the illusion that it would stay pleasant all day long.
I couldn't have been more wrong headed.
Just as soon as I sat down at the bankside a bank of low and filthy cloud rolled in from the North and in just ten short minutes the warm and sunny disposition of the morning was changed to mean and malicious - within two hours I was wearing my winter coat zipped up to the neck, shivering, biteless, and wishing I'd never bothered.
I had all kinds of bait from maggots and corn to pellets and boilies and I was putting in swim feeders full every ten minutes on both rods for hours, but nothing worked. Even the maggots remained untouched and that is just not normal and it wasn't just me who was suffering, there were four other anglers around me and they were doing just as badly as I was. I saw one bream and some small perch caught all day long.
If you will fish Stratford on a Sunday then this is what you get all day long. Land a big fish and you have a gawping audience. Every dog off its lead eats your bait. Every other bloke is an angler asking the state of play. The upside is the sheer throughput of elegant females, the downside a case of neck strain...
I did have one small bite at one o'clock, and then a long gap of complete inactivity till four thirty when I moved downstream to the shallows above the footbridge where I had brief spell of overwhelming excitement with pulls and knocks on both rods all at once even though they were cast tens of yard apart, but both strikes met with air, and then there was nothing else to follow.
I suppose that's what you get when the temperature crashes ten degrees overnight and sticks there.
Just a big fat yawn...