Sunday 16 October 2016

Messing about in a boat

A week ago last Thursday my brother Don rang to suggest a day's trout fishing up at Hawkridge reservoir in north Somerset. One of a number of waters managed by Wessex Water, Hawkridge is a Particularly beautiful place. Not as big as some, rather long and thin, but large enough to benefit from using a boat to fish from. The water people have half a dozen boats available for hire and so Don and I arrived early both in order to get a boat and secure a decent spot for our activities. The morning was still and misty which gave the numerous valleys,through which I had passed, an almost mystical beauty. 

Having arrived early we were at the front of a small queue of fellow anglers so no problem getting a boat. The boats in question come with a set of oars but, fortunately Don has an electric motor. Apart from the battery being extremely heavy to move around, the motor, when fixed to the boat, does away with a great deal of hard work. We were quickly being propelled to our favoured spot on the water and the sun was now shining. The water surface was as smooth as a mirror and fish could be seen moving around on, and just below, the surface. At that hour, around 0830, the place was alive with birds. Half a dozen Herons were positioned around the banks motionlessly waiting for any passing fish. Ducks … Teal, Mallard, Widgeon, Tufted and a pair of Carolina's were all around the water. The latter, no doubt, escapees from a domestic breeder. There were also Great Crested Grebe and the Little Grebe or Dabchick in small groups. As we motored to our fishing station a flock of, in excess, of a hundred Canada Geese came in to join us. My goodness, are they noisy!

Having arrived at our chosen spot we set about the object of the exercise catching trout. The water is stocked with Rainbow and Brown Trout and contains some very large specimens. There are a number of options available to the angler but Don and I had gone for a full day ticket which, for the price of nineteen pounds gave a bag limit of five fish. All fish caught have to be taken and recorded, returns are not allowed. This, I understand, is to help reduce the likelihood of disease from stressed fish which are frequently caught and put back. 

As the morning progressed the weather changed and a stiffish wind blew up, not only was it stiff but also jolly cold. Coats had to be deployed. Having previously been calm there had been no need to use our anchor but now the boat was drifting and the anchor had to be dropped over the side in order that we remained where we wanted to be. 

By now we had been flogging water for several hours and not a sign of a bite or, for that matter, even a nudge. Flies and lures had been changed and re-changed but nothing seemed to tempt the trout below. Old favourites had not impressed so we resorted to some of the more bizarre creations within our fly boxes. These failed to stimulate also. Now, I have a theory, if all else fails go for black and green. Once again I changed my lure and, this time, on went a black and green hairy thing. A black body with a couple of green stripes, fished two or three feet down, this should do the trick. Well, it didn't, not at least until I had been dragging it up and down for another hour. A meal break had been taken, more to reflect than the desire to eat, and time kept creeping on without fish in the bag. Having eaten and rested we began our efforts with renewed vigour, if not expectation. 

There are times in angling when, just as one begins to think about giving up as a bad job, one is taken completely by surprise. This was such an occasion. All of a sudden my lure was hit like an express train. The fish almost had the rod out of my hand as I was so unprepared and had lapsed into an expectation of a blank day. It turned out to be a very nice two and a half pound Rainbow in quite superb condition. He fought like a Tiger. I got him to the net and safely on board the boat. It was at this point that things started to go seriously wrong. For the benefit of non-fishing readers, I should explain that the sporting angler carries within his bag an object known as a priest. This implement comes in various forms from a truncheon like wooden stick to a metal rod, to a piece of heavy pipe, or in my case, a solid length of stag horn. The idea is the priest is used to hit the fish on the head and kill it quickly and thus avoid a long and gasping death. Having got my trout into the boat, still within my landing net, I got out my priest and gave it a mighty whack. The trouble was that just at the very moment I launched my assault, the fish jumped and I placed the full force of my strike, fairly and squarely upon the large round bone in the inside of my left ankle. The shock wave was immediate and terrible. When I had finished exclaiming how painful it was and how jolly unlucky I was to have hit myself …. (well something like that!), I was half afraid to look at the damage. The pain was raw and extreme and a look revealed a very red globe like area. 

To cut a long story short we fished on for another couple of hours and both ended up with two fish each. It is now eleven days since my injury occurred and my ankle has gone through some interesting changes. Red went to blue and then black which then hinted at green on the edges and finally took on an insipid yellow colour all around the area. I resisted the frequent urgings from 'she who must be obeyed' to go and have it looked at! Worst still to go to A&E and have it X-rayed. Immediately after the event we went to Cornwall for a pre-planned long weekend and the pain came with me. Each night prior to going to bed pain killing gel had to be applied to the lump in order to get to sleep. Happily, all now seems to be getting better and apart from the annoyance of gum boots rubbing the hot spot, recovery seems well underway. So dear friends, if ever you are tempted to use a priest, make absolutely sure your aim is good. Oh, and also, don't expect any sympathy from your companion as on this occasion all my dear brother could do was to burst into fits of laughter and tell me that this was one of the funniest things he had ever seem. 

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