For the previous twenty four hours it had rained. And rained. Hard. A whole day's diluvium deluge. Today, however, after an uncertain start, the weather decided to be kind. The sun shone and the previous day's rain appeared to have added lustre to all of nature, and the bankside foliage seemed somehow renewed and refreshed. Creation singing a joyful song in praise of its Creator, reminiscent of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem:
"Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes."
She may have been a hypochondriac and a demanding wife to Robert Browning, but the girl could write.
Four of us, Pete, Paul and fellow Anglican minister Carl, were at the excellent Homeclose Fishery, engaged in a reconnaissance mission for this summer's Christian Anglers weekend Retreat. Homeclose will be one of the venues we visit, and we wanted to acquaint ourselves with it, and begin to ponder its puzzles.
We sat in the sunshine, strung out in a row in adjacent pitches and Carl, who was tucked away in a corner swim with a nice bed of lilly pads to fish to, was the first to regularly contact fish, with an early flurry of small carp on float fished maggots. Although the reed fringed lake cried out to be fished on the float, I elected to begin on the Method with hair rigged pellets, partly because I had a hunch that it might prove more selective and avoid the smaller fish, but mostly because I was trying out a new quivertip rod and 3000 size baitrunner. I missed one screaming run (no mean feat on a self-hooking rig!), but soon Pete, Paul and Carl were catching regularly on the float, with bream being the predominant species.
After about an hour and a half of sitting watching a motionless quivertip, I set up a float rod and centre pin reel and dropped a float into the margins, tight to the reedbed. Mainline was 4 lb, hooklink 2lb bs and a size 18 hook baited with double maggot. Bites were constant, and soon a steady stream of bream were being brought to the bank. The lakes (there are four on the complex, which is a working farm) are superbly kept, and we had this particular pond to ourselves. Pete and I both had spells on the float punctuated by switches to the Method, and it was the latter that was responsible for Pete landing this tench, modest in size but with the lovely, silky sheen that typifies the species.
Bites slowed as midday gave way to early afternoon, and as we entered our final half hour's fishing I hooked and landed my best fish of the day, a very respectably sized golden orfe, that took my float-fished maggot and for about thirty seconds gave a convincing impression of a carp, putting a healthy bend in the rod and drawing line from the centre pin, before deciding to lay on its side and suffer the ignominy of being pulled to the net without offering further resistance.
My final fish of the day was a bream, a fish noteworthy because it was the only one that succumbed to my Method feeder approach. The float had certainly outscored the Method, but at least my new rod and reel had seen some action.
As we, reluctantly, packed up at the end of about four and a half hours of fishing our combined total of fish caught must have been somewhere slightly in excess of one hundred. Most were bream, but three carp, three tench and two golden orfe provided a touch of variety. The company, conversation and banter were excellent, the fishery was picturesque, and the fish proved themselves to be reasonably compliant. Not a bad way to spend a day, and a welcome anticipation builder for the forthcoming Retreat.