Sunday, 13 May 2018

Always the bridesmaid as Wizard fails to work its magic

"We can't ever get back to old things or try and get the 'old kick' out of something or find things the way we remembered them. We have them as we remember them and they are fine and wonderful and we have to go on and have other things because the old things are nowhere except in our minds now" wrote Ernest Hemmingway, and to an extent I concur. However, while we may never have them again, we can, at times, get close.

In the school summer holidays of 1981 while Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were busy embarking on their ill fated marriage, three brothers decided to teach themselves to fish. Aged 13, 11 and 8, they fished solidly for nearly 30 days from dawn to dusk, with short solid glass rods, line thick enough to tether a charging bull and hooks that dwarfed the bunches of maggots impaled upon them, and by the end of those 30 days they had caught  a grand total of 4 fish between them, and had made enough happy memories to last a lifetime. I was the oldest of the three.

Since those days the three of us have continued to fish, have grown in competence and experience, and our paths have geographically diverged. Tim, the youngest lives in South Wales, Andy in Hertfordshire, while I for the last decade have resided in Leicestershire. Various permutations of the three of us have fished together most years throughout the period since we all left home, but all three of us have probably only managed to fish together half a dozen times in the last twenty odd years, and so my 50th birthday provided the perfect excuse to reunite the whole fraternal team for a day's fishing, accompanied also by my 17 year old son, James.

The venue for the day was a favourite of mine, a small intimate pond set in rolling countryside amid a patchwork of fields dotted with sheep. Noted for its fine roach fishing, the lake also contains a good head of small to medium sized carp, an ideal place to christen my recently acquired refurbished vintage (Gold Label) Allcocks Wizard.

As we walked from the carpark to the lake the smell of wild garlic gave way to that smell, hard to describe but known by all anglers, of the lakeside. The weather was cloudy with a slight chill, but mild, and we set to the business of fishing. Andy, James and I all opted for one rod on the float and a "sleeper rod" for carp, while Tim, a long time devotee of the carp, opted for a two rod "carp or bust" approach. James was soon catching on the float, a gudgeon, two perch and a roach quickly finding their way to the bank. Tim landed the first carp of the day (above) and James and Andy landed two "peas in a pod" roach at the same time, which also called for a photographic freezing of the moment.

But after the brief opening flurry, the roach and perch just "switched off", the lake became somnolent with bites becoming increasingly infrequent and a frustrating lethargy seeming to befall the fish of the lake. I was catching periodically as I persisted with the float, but soon James and Andy had made the decision to forego the attempt to build a nice catch of decent roach and had set their stall out entirely for carp. I continued to bring the odd fish to the bank on a very irregular basis, as I was taking pleasure from putting the Wizard to use for the first time and enjoying  the way that in its seventh decade it was far more lithesome and responsive than I am in my sixth, and with its honey-coloured cane and red whippings far better looking than I have ever been, even in what passed for my pomp!

I also had a rod placed on a bite alarm, a superb modern barbel rod which was a birthday present from my brothers and which, as well as being ideal for commercial-sized carp, will hopefully be put into active service this summer on a barbel fishing weekend I'm booked in for, but unfortunately apart from a couple of bleeps from line bites it remained resolutely untroubled by carp.

Tim, however, managed four carp, Andy three and James one, the latter a delightful looking fish, almost goldfish orange in colour , and clearly a fish with a a good helping of koi in its genetic make-up.

None of my fish merited a "grip and grin" picture, but I couldn't resist laying a particularly handsome and bristling little perch in my wooden framed landing net, and photographing it with the Wizard, handmade float and Allcocks Record Breaker reel, the acknowledged fact that "small can be beautiful" providing the compensation for the fact that while I didn't catch the least fish, my capture was comprised of the smallest of those that we caught on the day.

We unfortunately timed our departure slightly too late, and packed up in a deluge of Biblical proportions, before rounding off our thoroughly enjoyable day with a pub meal. The fishing had, for all of us, been patchy and for me had lacked any fish of noteworthy size, but neither that or the heavy rain at "last knockings" dampened what had been a wonderful day in which the very average results were more than obviated by the glorious scenery and the camaraderie that always accompanies our family get-togethers. There are few things I'd rather do than fish, and no-one I would rather  indulge in angling alongside than my brothers and son.

The Wizard will have future opportunities to prove its worth (as will the barbel rod), but this day, despite our modest harvest of fish, will join so many others in holding a special place in the annals of my angling stream of consciousness.

Next year Andy turns 50 .... plans are already being drawn up!

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