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Jupiter and Venus

The close season has snuck up on me and looking back on the entries to the blog, I can only give myself the following mark: must try harder - maybe the fishing book and a succession of articles for Waterlog have wrung all the stories from me.

Yet I know that can't be true. I've just read an absorbing little book called My Favourite Swims by Fred J. Taylor (signed by the man himself - thanks Dave) and what strikes me is not just Fred's love of fishing but his compulsion to write about it too - to get it down on paper for posterity so that these stories, no matter how slight, are not lost.

On impulse then, and realising that time was running out I took the new John Wilson Rovex 11-13 footer to the river, paired with a centrepin and 4lb line, the idea being that I would test its versatility by trotting for a bit before switching over to the ledger for the last hour or so. Bait would be small cubes of luncheon meat followed by worms from the garden. Mmmmm.

There were a handful of anglers there already, taking advantage of the sudden warm, shirtsleeves weather. The first was sat in a swim I'd never seen before, obviously created by club members who’d removed part of the bank upstream where the river splits and cleared out the vegetation choking it as it ambles back to re-join the main current. The result is a wonderful looking swim which flows fast over a gravel bottom before easing round the bend into deeper water. There's a nice looking slack on the far side and plenty of features to fish to. I shall have a go at that next season.

Further downstream for me then, to the bend where I've had several good sessions in the summer. I tackle up with the JW set at 13 feet with one of the new cheap plastic stick floats bought from Dragon Carp Direct (hey look at me Ma, I’m advertising…) which cocks sweetly yet gives me plenty of weight to control it. Half a dozen trots later I'm back in the groove. The rod is heavier than my 15 footer but handles well, is easy to hold and thanks to the relatively short handle, I’m able to move the rod around without hitting myself in the stomachs.

No bites though, so after an hour I take the rod and just potter about in the swims either side, fishing very close in, letting the float tickle the dead margin reeds. No bites but it's pleasant enough in the sunshine so I wander further afield, putting on a tiny worm and casting further out and suddenly the float's gone and I'm into a chub of two, maybe three ounces. A rod that catches first time out is going to be a lucky rod, and I'm pleased. There's a tiny bit of the worm left so I re-cast and get another bite, see the flash of a perch and then it's off again. The swim looks promising though so I amble downstream and get the rest of the gear, then re-tackle with a quiver tip section at the top, add a small Arlesey bomb, switch up to a 12 and put on a bigger worm.

Two things happen in quick succession. A stupid dog appears silently at my shoulder and barks loudly at me and out of the corner of my eye I see the tip judder and then pull round. It's a perch of about four ounces. Very welcome. I fish on.

Another bite, firmer this time and it feels like another perch and I'm taking my time, enjoying the scrappy little tugs and darts when the water in front me explodes. There's a moment when the river seems to suck in its cheeks and then rod's in a hoop, the tip almost touching the water and I'm attached to a very big and very pissed off pike. A pike so big that this can only end one way - and so it does, with my tackle up the tree beside me, hook gone, line sheared through, river still again, me laughing with the adrenalin rush. Amazing. It’s like having your very own Aussie croc story.

The swim obviously dead, I move on to see if that new spot the top of the stretch has been vacated. It has, but though I tackle up again and fish hard in the fading light I don't get a single bite. But it doesn’t matter. Above me in the west, Jupiter and Venus, the father of the gods and his consort are riding together high in the heavens, dazzlingly bright, lighting my way back across the field, over the stile to the car and in time, all the way home.