Monday, 20 October 2014

A long catch up - Digging into my past

Well it has been a while since my last update so this is a fairly long one. During that time I have had a mixture of glass back syndrome and some personal issues, both of which  I wish to touch upon to a certain degree in this particular post.

I would just like to say thanks to the kindly mother who devotes her spare time to ferrying me about and picking me up and sometimes at rather odd hours, it is a fact that a lot of my fishing would not be possible without her assistance, taking her time to involve herself with my fishing directly chatting about venues and much more, I never mention it to you enough but I am forever indebted to you and also to dad for kindling my interest in angling as a child.

The back has mended somewhat though and that was originally caused by falling down the stairs at home, partly my fault for leaving one of my hats tucked in the banister rail which then fell onto said stairs and took me on a mini adventure as half of me surfed down them, an amusing but painful sight. I thought nothing of it the following evening, just a little ache and twinge, so decided I was still fair game to head off fishing. After getting to my swim I was using my chair as a makeshift zimmer frame and I was feeling in pretty poor shape, shooting pain running into the lumber and down my left thigh, this was only alleviated by pushing back hard against my seat and leaning to my right, thoughts of how I was going to make it back were running through my head, thankfully I had brought some diclofenac tablets along with me and these did help alleviate the pain if not the problem.

This particular stretch of the river was intimate with some very nice features, sunken bushes and beautiful gravel runs and channels, spots where folding nettles to one side is more than ample to poke a rod through.

After a light amount of bait dropper work a single rod was lowered next to a marginal tree, a nice opening in the weed beds and a slight variance in depth, deeper but not by a lot, perhaps by an extra 12 inches when compared to other areas in the same swim. It looked the perfect spot for fish to either be sat under or patrol along and stop for a snack.

By now evening had faded to night and owls were calling out in earnest, every so often a pipistrelle  would dance in front of me, fluttering to and throw, thankfully picking up any mosquitoes that might have been contemplating feeding on me instead.

There was no real indication of the rather spirited 5lb barbus that sped off with my bait, just an all out bite and a tenacious scrap.

It was nice to see a younger fish as that is not usually the case on some areas of the Loddon that I fish, the norm being high singles and doubles. A couple of hours later and another feisty friend of a similar size joined this fish.

Fighting fit 5.4

This was giving me some food for thought, why was it this particular area seemed to have a larger populace of smaller/younger fish. Less predation? Perhaps a better habitat and spawning areas than on other reaches? Perhaps more stocking had taken place along this reach than on others? I am not sure on the latter and do plan on doing some research into this.

I was happy, but the way home, though short was arduous and in hindsight I should have never made this trip as it botched my back good and proper, ruining a trip that I had offered a good friend (Tom) the following weekend.

What followed was days of repeated hot water bottles, Ibuleve back rubs (thanks to mum and dad) and painkillers. The last time I had my back go badly was lifting a large computer monitor (crt) many years ago and that left me bed ridden,  my mind was swinging back and forth to that moment and I was subconsciously compounding emotion on top of emotion, with thoughts of having let a friend down, along with being an idiot for falling down the stairs in the first place.

After what felt like too long I began feeling better, certainly not like a spring chicken but better. I decided to have a rummage about in my rucksack and in an attempt to reduce any weight, although in fairness I think the weight needs to come off said person and not rucksack.

As my back continued getting better I opted for a couple of late evening sessions. I found myself heading to an area that I was more unfamiliar with, but one that had a rather enticing look about it with fallen trees and reed lined margins, ideal for a one rod poke, the two swims I had in mind were rather hit and hold and would prove interesting should I connect with any of the residents.

A few bait droppers of seed were lowered into place upstream in both swims, along with a miniscule  amount of broken boilie, I decided to start off with a thick set boilie paste only, so as to give off a fresh scent trail.

The night was clear, stars twinkling and aside from the bark of deer which penetrated the darkness all was calm. An hour or more had passed when I had the first indication of fish in the swim, the rod tip giving a rather fidgety nudge, followed by a pluck. The bite was most definitely more akin to a chevin.

Another thud and jerk followed, I struck, the fish bolted for the safety of a nearby weed raft, it was indeed a chub and a well proportioned one at that, broad and in rather pristine condition.

A brassy chevin (5.2)

I gave the spot another hour but started to receive some rather unwanted attention from the cray twins, the rod tip tightening up solidly as they played about with my bait, on winding in I applied a size 8 boot to the mini lobster that was holding firmly to the hook link and decided that a move to another swim was in order.

On moving to the next swim the rod was not in the water for long when the tip sprung round and I brought in probably one of the largest crayfish I have seen, one of its claws the width of one and a half of my thumbs, we eyed each other up for a second, thoughts of a boiling saucepan, some salt and side salad did spring to mind.

A change to boilie was made, two more casts preceded another two crayfish of similar size, a mental note was made to stop kidding myself that there would be no more after each cast to this undercut bank so I relocated to the main channel and a small opening in the streamer weed, by now pockets of mist were rolling in across the fields at regular intervals, enveloping river and angler, the only light coming from my watch as I checked it furtively, time was ticking down and with it the sullen feeling of having to leave the river was slowly but surely setting in.

My rod tip nudged slightly before arching round, this time it was evident that it was no crayfish as a welcome scrapper (4.9) took me on a short and energetic trip through the weedy channels.

Perfection in miniature

I headed off home happy in the knowledge that this new area had produced a couple of very healthy looking fish.

The next few days thoughts about heading back down the river were interspersed with the trip I had planned with Tom and what area of the river we should head to on the day.

The following evening and at the offer of a lift to one of my venues I decided to head out, not reaching my chosen location until darkness had started setting in, a swim which had garnered my interest in the past and looked like it could indeed be fruitful, not so much dense weed beds here, but enough adjacent features to suggest that fish would travel through this area, however due to the lack of rainfall the water was low and very clear, the marginal gravel gullies clearly visible with my headlight as were the crayfish and minnows.

A light underarm cast was made toward a gully on the opposite bank, small weight and pva mesh creating a light ripple in the moonlight, it was a mild night with a light amount cloud cover, the only sound that of mice trying their best to get to my rucksack via the undergrowth, it was a strange night in that respect as there was very little owl activity despite conditions looking perfect for their hunting sorties.

At about 10pm the crunch of feet nearby told me that there was another solitary angler seeking a fish or two, their headlight dwindling off into the distance as they headed back downstream, it was not long after this that the rod thudded round, shunting forward in the rest, I was soon connected to a very lively fish that ploughed off upstream as it tried putting the reeds on the opposite bank to good use. Once I slipped the net under it I could see that it was in cracking condition with a large paddle, vivid colouration and fighting fit.

8lb with a rather mean paddle

It was a very pleasant way to commence the trip and I would have to say this has to be one of the most immaculate barbel I have had the pleasure of catching.

A quick cast and the rod was back in position, about half an hour later and I could hear movement on the opposite bank, my first thought was a mink but this animal didn't seem quite as agile, the far bank foliage rustling as it seemed to tumble headfirst through it, followed by the odd gruff sound, all became evident when my headlight shone on a badgers head which was poking through the stinging nettles, I don't think it was overly impressed to see me, making a disgruntled sound it ran off in that rough and ready style that only badgers seem to have.

By now I had rummaged about in my bag and found a pack of choc orange digestives, as I set about tucking into one or five of them the rod tip shook violently, seemingly a tad too heavy handed to be a crayfish.

The second bite was equally cagey with just the one sharp tap, this fish building up confidence to a more aggressive take which followed ten minutes later, the rod wrapping round to the right, fish heading down the gravel gully for the safety of the bushes upstream, some side pressure was applied,I heard it break the surface, it sounded and felt a reasonable fish, as I drew it closer to the bank it decided to play possum, looking well and truly ready for the net, this was not to be the case though as it sped off downstream, line steadily ticking off the drag.

After what was a very good scrap I had what looked a nice double in the net and the scales did not disagree settling on 11.12.

This was followed not long after by a perfect little barbel over 2lb which in hindsight I should have taken a picture of, given that it is the smallest I have seen in recent years on this waterway.

On returning home I chatted to Tom about the following days fishing and had high hopes for him to bag his first barbel from this river and maybe first double.

On meeting Tom in the club car park it was evident that he was rather excited to wet a line on a new river and his company is always very congenial, those that know me will be perhaps be aware that I don't have a great deal of friends, those that I do have are mainly inside the fishing community and Tom and I have grown a great deal as friends, in the past we have not always seen eye to eye with certain things, but we have worked through those moments and also shared some amusing trips together, unassuming and enjoyable to fish with, it is nice to be able to call him a good friend.

We made our way slowly past swims, stopping frequently to draw breathe and for me to share some information regarding certain spots with him, confidence was high and conditions looked good, nice cloud cover and very still, even if the river was a tad low and clear. We eventually stopped at an area I felt would offer a good chance of a fish to either of us.

Tom tackling up

We opted to fish a single rod each so as to not pressure the area too much, the day past by fairly uneventfully with only one sharp bite coming to Tom and I did think this was going to develop into something a bit more convincing but alas did not,much to my malaise the crayfish were proving to be on fine form, taps and plucks coming at regular intervals as they toyed with my bait.

Evening passed into darkness, it was a calm night, barely a breeze in the air,  just the sound of owls and a rather attention seeking deer barking out its gruff call for the best part of an hour. It was becoming fairly evident that the gentleman's river was going to do what it does best with a Jekyll and Hyde moment, as early morning came and we slowly packed up I mentioned how unlucky we were given the conditions and how fickle the river can be at times, but Tom was not fussed or put off by this and on making our way home he was already chatting about having another trip.

A few days later I had been giving some thought to trying another spot in this general area of the river and I also had other things on my mind, one of those being an appointment to see a psychologist. If I sat here typing this and said it did not play heavily on my mind I would be lying and my mood was a sombre one during this trip, filled with thoughts of what to expect with the upcoming appointment, but the river helped to take the edge off this, as did the reward of a healthy and energetic barbel (6.10)

When the day of the appointment finally arrived I was moody and agitated, it was safe to say that I had worked myself up somewhat and ended up having a bit of meltdown prior to it, as well as acting very negatively toward my father, given that he was trying to be supportive I cannot really forgive myself for doing that, but at the same time I guess I felt rather prickly.

My mother remained present as she was to be there to chat about what I was like as a child through to my adulthood and so on. A lot of the questions that were put to myself and mum were in relation to autism and to help the psychologist gauge it, I will not delve into everything as I find it painful enough typing about it, but at the same time feel that I need to unload some of it in this blog.

Many topics were covered, including how well I socially interacted with other children when I was a toddler, through to primary and secondary school, how many friends I had and such. The amount of friends was probably one of the easier questions to answer, as I could count those on a single finger.
I explained how I never really interacted socially with other children at primary or secondary school finding it all too awkward, the trouble is when you are deemed different to the "norm" you are then picked on more and I spent a lot of my schooldays being bullied, which created an immense loathing for school, especially secondary.

Questions were asked if I would realize that I was boring someone when talking continuously on subjects that I enjoyed such as fishing, I did admit that I would continue chatting on the given subject. My parents are well aware of this, but despite that fact always try to be very accommodating and at the same time remind me when I am harping on a bit too much. I must be rather exasperating and very trying at times.

Other subjects were touched upon such as hearing sensitivity, smell and whether I had a good imagination or not, also how my eye contact was when speaking to people. Whilst eye contact is not  something I have ever been good at, over the years I have come to force myself to maintain it during conversation, although I still find it easier to do so when chatting on subjects that I am familiar with and in surroundings where I am more at ease. Social interaction has never been easy, that isn't to say that I don't enjoy it on my own terms.

Questions were asked if I ever felt depressed. Going into detail about how i generally felt from day to day and what things brought me to a low ebb, sharing this with a person you don't really know from Adam and a person whom you do, yet don't share those parts of your personality and mental state with was not the greatest of feelings.

Many more items were covered in detail which also included any female relationships, this felt awkward and immensely uncomfortable to chat about and admit that I had never had a relationship.I suppose the general thought for a man of my age is that my mum should perhaps see me with my own family or at least in some kind of relationship and I guess this is the shape life would normally take. It is not an easy subject for me to touch upon as I know deep down this affects her, especially as she sees acquaintances and their children growing up and starting families, myself left in stasis.

With regard to this subject, I do have the most uncomfortably realistic dreams, the kind where you might awaken to think it was real and believe you are in a relationship, only for it to become starkly apparent that it was indeed only a dream and it is these that I dislike the most as they cause me a lot of distress.

But do I actually want a soul mate? You know the answer to that is a rather mixed affair, I guess part of me does, but the other part does not feel it right that I should inflict myself upon another person who is more functioning than myself and have a negative impact on them and their lifestyle.

By the end of the appointment I was feeling almost numb and totally spent, it is not everyday you get to rake over the coals from two different perspectives and still find them too hot for comfort.

The more I think about it all, the more I realize what a let down I must really be to mum and dad, I know they had to think long and hard about having a second child and when they did decide to they were bestowed one that didn't cut the mustard, not even half a jar. Such are the ways and weaknesses of genes and how they meld, you might think that easy for me to say, alas if only that were the case.


For those who came expecting to read a blog solely about fishing and found something a little different by the end of it and might feel that this angler is one card short of a full deck, to hell with you, after all this blog is my party and I'll cry if I want to.