Thursday, August 2, 2007 Filed in: ponds
Having decided to head for a different stretch of the river my plans were scuppered after a quick check of the club website. We don't have that bit any more; instead we've got the stretch over the road which is nigh on unfishable - steep, steep banks, no swims and no fish so far as I can see (I'll fit right in then).
So instead, I set off for a couple of small ponds near the river, up and over a field or two and set out of the way in a small copse. I haven't fished here for years but for the patient, quiet angler, there used to be nice crucian carp and the odd tench.
Got lost of course and ended up driving the 323 over some farmer's fields, weaving in and out of the wheels of hay, trying to find a landmark I could remember from all those years back. In the end I came back out onto the road, bouncing cheerfully up and down, and taking the next turning found myself on a much more likely-looking dirt track. The car heaved a sigh of relief and things began to slip into place. I remembered this. The little flat area in front of the wooden building and the path over the top towards the copse.
There was a small, unremembered orchard which was infested with the noisiest sheep I've ever come across. They dashed towards me as I opened the gate and I had to poke them out of the way with the rod. Gate closed I set off through the orchard as the light settled and the sheep got back to sheep stuff. Later on I would hear them as I fished, sounding for all the world like they were having a huge fist fight.
Presented with another gate I was temporarily flummoxed. The club issues a membership card which has the padlock number for all the waters that are locked to keep out scroungers. It's a four digit number. This padlock only had three barrels. I tried the first three numbers, then the last three, then gave up and hauled my ageing carcass over the top of the gate. As I jumped off it made that kind of metal whanging sound as it vibrated back and forth - haven't heard that for a while.
The ponds were even more overgrown than before, the trees having spread out and over much of the water, leaving small open pools and little clear spots here and there. I had a quick reccy and disturbed a few surface feeding fish, probably small carp, before setting a float road and fishing with little lumps of luncheon meat on a size 12. It was really shallow, in fact even the two little commons I caught must have almost been scraping along the bottom of the pond in order to stay out of sight. Fish came up at my feet for insects and as the sun dropped the bats came out, flitting between the trees and swooping down to the water. I made a coffee about 8.30 and then fished until dark. Two bites, two fish, just either side of a pound.
Packing up, I put the little head torch on and went cold when it picked out two bright, blank eyes, standing at head height just on the other side of the fence. I caught the outline of pointed ears and a heavy, distended jaw before my Dennis Wheatley-style monster metamorphosed into a pleasantly curious bullock watching me get my gear together.
Oddly by the time I got back into the field, he'd vanished, and though I felt certain he'd ambush me with a comical head butt to the arse as I heaved back over the gate, he didn't. Instead I heard him cropping the bushes in the next field, making them shudder and shake.
Which meant I forgot the sheep completely. Delighted by my return, they pounded out of the darkness of the orchard - about eight of them - and proceeded to gambol around me in a parody of welcome. I could see their sheepy teeth and read the slow intent in their eyes. I've seen the movie. Next time I shall come armed with mint sauce.
About the author
Rob Beattie is the other of several popular fishing books. He's also a regular contributor to Waterlog magazine.