An intriguing title, but a pretty fair summation of my fishing activity thus far in the month of April. If the "pubs and clubs" bit has prepared you for some salacious confessions of the lounge lizard type, then I must disappoint you, it merely refers to the first meeting of our church fishing club, which took place in our village's licensed hostelry. With 18 church members keen to be involved we filled in forms, planned, and will be going on our first outing in May, when we've booked a lake to ourselves - expect a full report next month.
And so to the "giant gonk" ....
Last Saturday my son (pictured above) and I snuck out at first light for a couple of hours float-fishing on a local pond. It was a casual affair, bait was just a pint of maggots, and it was mostly about the company and the chance to be somewhere pleasant after a busy few weeks which hadn't allowed any time for fishing. (Easter's church related busyness being immediately followed by a family holiday to the breathtaking volcano island of Iceland)
We were soon catching pretty, but very small rudd and perch, when the float dipped again and I swung in what I thought would be another rudd. However the "rudd" was long (surprisingly fat) and brown with hints of silver and violet- a gudgeon, and "what a gudgeon". I'd estimate its size as between 3 and 4 ounces (the photo has caused considerable interest and not a little admiration on one angling Facebook site), which when you consider that the British record, set in 1990, is a fish of 5 ounces "on the nose" helps realise what an absolute monster this fish was. Ironically, what is probably likely to turn out to be one of the smallest fish I catch this year will almost certainly also (in proportionate terms) be my "largest." Here's a picture of the fish in question:
All of which led me to doing some research on gudgeon tales, and- appropriately- I came across a great story about an 18th Century Vicar, the Revd George Harvest, Vicar of Thames Ditton, who was engaged to be married to the daughter of the Bishop of London. On the morning of the "big day", the Vicar decided to while away the hours before the nuptial ceremony with a spot of gudgeon fishing (gudgeon were his favourite quarry), and so engrossed was he in his angling activity that he missed the wedding. His intended (clearly no angler) took umbrage and broke off the union before it had another chance to be formalised or blessed. Speaking as an angler more than as a representative of the established church, it sounds to me as if he had a lucky escape; the Bishop's daughter would surely never have understood the "one last cast" mentality that permanently leads to anglers arriving home later than promised.