The Naked Hippies
Tuesday, September 11, 2007 Filed in: rivers
So, excited at the prospect of fishing a new stretch of the river I met Sean at 1.30pm and we set off, past a beautiful, newly renovated mill and a private pool that was so full of feeding chub that it was almost comical.
Sean spent the walk reminiscing about his youthful sorties to these parts which curiously seemed to involve naked sunbathing hippies rather than actual fish. Still, best not to get our hopes up....
Having arrived at the river, I realise that it's actually the back end of the stretch that I normally fish. To anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of geography this would be obvious from five seconds with a map (never mind Google Maps) but it comes as a surprise to me and - let's be honest - a slight disappointment. (My wife by the way, maintains that I can get lost in our back garden.) Still, having examined half a dozen swims and seen more than a few fish, it does look very promising.
It's too hot to fish so in a process rich with innuendo, we compare tackle instead and Sean kindly makes me a present of a couple of velcro strappy things to hold rod, landing handle and bank stick together. I offer him the first cup of coffee as a thank you. Actually I owe Sean a lot more than that - he's the one who introduced me to this river, who got me into the club and who's put me up on more than occasion to facilitate early morning sessions.
We bait up a few swims and eventually settle down into one just above the bridge. There are plenty of features here and because it's still early, we want to sit together and have a gas for a bit before getting down to the serious business of barbelling. After a while, the central disadvantage of fishing with someone becomes clear - any subsequent telling of the tale cannot contain any bare-faced lies about chasing monstrous fish up and down the bank or - in a fit of self-delusion - turning that snag in front of you into a rogue 20lb sea trout...and no, that wasn't the backside of a naked hippy glimpsed briefly through the trees...
Maybe we both sense this because after a while we split up. Sean heads upstream at a bend that goes from shallow gravel runs to deeper, smoother water, and disappears behind the undergrowth, while I head for the spot shown here, almost under the bridge where the water feints and swirls in enticing patterns. A chub second cast gets my hopes up to the extent that I don't photograph him, convinced that there are many more in the swim. It looks fishy beyond belief.
Of course, that turns out to be it. I get a couple more good tugs which I fluff and end the day with that single fish. Sean gets nothing, not even a strikeable bite, for all that the river looks as though it ought to be full of fish. Sean blames the low water level, I blame the cold front hugging the M4. In the end, we both blame the naked hippies.
About the author
Rob Beattie is the other of several popular fishing books. He's also a regular contributor to Waterlog magazine.