When you've been blogging about fishing as long as I have, there's a point that comes where quite frankly my dear, you just don't give a damn anymore. You'll publish about the most dreary bite-less day so long as there's a back story. In fact it becomes a matter of actually going out to catch that sideline incident instead of fish themselves. Straight fishing makes for a terribly dull read. I-went-out-and-caught-fish-and-here-they-are. I just can't write that sort of stuff neither can I read it. It's the adventure of encountering the unexpected that makes it sing. Without that then it's just so much, so what?
Today, for instance. What was turning out to be a real fag end of an expedition suddenly came alight when my accumulated session struggles, none of which were especially exciting or remarkable in of themselves, all came together at the end to create a story that actually begs a question.
I knew something was afoot. When I sit down to fish but take no pictures then I just know in my heart of hearts that nothing remarkable will happen, but if I find myself taking shots of this and that (and especially selfies...) then something is about to occur. Call it professional instinct. Call it what you like. But it's always right. And today I was snap happy.
Anyhow. The venue was the Saxon Mill on the Wark's Avon, one of the most overgrown wildernesses it has ever been my pain and pleasure to fish. The reason was that I had a few hours free and by chance Judy was going that way and later back again with my few free hours neatly sandwiched between. So I snatched up a rod and went.
By Christ it was high. By Golly it was lush. By the time I'd reached my first swim high up in no mans land I was sweating like the proverbial swine, so I took a selfie and caught a drop on the end of my nose. The water was almost stationary. Hardly any flow to speak of. It looked stale. I fished bread and caught one roach for my efforts from a swim that on a great day provides a hundred or more. They were just not biting.
So I moved downstream through monstrous tendrils and head high nettles to another swim, where just as before I caught very little, in fact nothing whatsoever. However, on arrival there I found my hand gushing blood, ripped open by a bramble, and it had been flowing for some time without my noticing it.
So, I took a selfie, as you do (or rather I do). Then wiped the worst of it on the bottom of my seat and carried on.
Sweat, Blood. Well, there's two-thirds of a title in an hour. All I needed now was tears and the story would come together nicely, fish or no fish.
Having expended precious effort, time and bodily fluids that would be wasted unless I moved again, I made the decision to go fish right back at the very beginning of the expedition and off the weir wall, conveniently situated next one of the most expensive pubs in England. The Saxon Mill. How on earth, though, would I get tears here unless by way of having to pay through the nose for a pint?
Well it then got weird. But, 'Blood, Sweat and Weird?
That's just rubbish.
I thought 'queer' might be better. It was queer. Indeed it was. But how would I get a selfie to illustrate queerness? Stand like a teapot, rod in hand? Not that kind of queer though. This was just fishy queer not the nine bob note kind...
I was fishing ledgered bread, mind. Now I fish an awful lot of bread and once in a while it catches fish that are a surprise or those it ain't supposed to. But never have I ever caught more than one queer fish on bread in the same year, yet today, I caught two on successive casts.
The first was a very handsome perch. I was thinking it a crucian when I first caught a glimpse in the water. Using bread you'd expect a bread kind of fish, no matter that the river probably contains none at all of that species and if it does, not in a weirpool. It fought like mental. Thought I'd not bank it but eventually I did. Spanking fish.
Oddly enough, just the day before I'd been thinking about all the various species I'd ever caught on bread and perch was missing from my list. Now it was on it. How strange is that? Angling for all my life never having caught one on bread — think about the fact that I never have — next day catch one. You might think that not odd at all but when you've been blogging about fishing as long as I have...
Next cast I get a big fat bite and hook what must be a big fat chub. I don't see it for ages. It powers about the place bending my roach rod double with a crowd of expectant onlookers gathering. Half way through the fight I get a tap on the shoulder. It's Judy with a pint in hand. I take a gulp. Doombar. I now have the title complete and continue attempts to get this feisty chub in hand.
But it's a bleedin' pike! Crowds of onlookers love pike like no other fish because they know they have big teeth. On banking the fish I can hear their approval of them and their warnings to small children about the dangers of messing with them. Luckily I don't have to, it's hooked lightly in the scissors and with a pop, it's out.
Judy takes a picture. For some reason it's blurred. I guarantee if I'd taken the same shot of her it would have been pin sharp. Weird camera. Like the pike and captor it attempts to depict, it has a tiny mind of its own...
Sitting back down, I take a well deserved selfie and finish my pint.
And ask myself a question...
"Two predators in ten minutes on bread — hardly any bread loving fish in three hours... but why?"
One you'd assume was a fish attacking a minnow eating bread, but two on the trot then you'd question that premise. You have to understand that these two casts of bread were two out of perhaps a hundred thousand prior ones, only one of which had ever produced a predator and that was seen chasing the bread on the retrieve.
Thinking "why, why, why," it suddenly struck me exactly why.
Well, I hadn't washed my bloody hands, had I.