June the 16th. The opening day of the season. The Glorious 16th. A day recognised by all - or at least those in the fishing 'know' - as having almost mythological significance.
First trip for a while, so obviously maggots are the order of the day. The cheese paste still lurks in the fridge waiting for its time, but on this local river, I feel there's more chance of a result with something that wriggles.
This was surely a banker. Overcast, warm, settled weather (with perhaps the promise of rain to liven things up) a lovely little lake - and this swim, which virtually guaranteed tench and carp. I mean, look at those lily pads....
As it turns out, having plumbed it, the deep water is mostly in the left of the picture, between the two sets of pads - after that it shallows off to the right.
Anyway, cheese paste, corn and luncheon meat. Pellets for ground bait (and some sticky smelly nightmarish stuff that my host kindly provided - couldn't get it into the water fast enough) and off we went, about 5.00pm.
It was a good session. Lots of roach and rudd to about half a pound, first on float, later on leger. I lost a couple of decent ones too - they certainly knew all about those lilies.
Only one interruption really, when my fellow angler pitched up a little breathlessly carrying his landing net inside which was the biggest perch I've ever seen. Now I reckon I've caught a perch of one and three quarters and I thought that was big. This was 3lbs 10oz - a perchosaurus! Massive shoulders, huge mouth and when he released it, it swam off like a pike, fast and pissed off.
Last cast as light was fading I got a good solid take on corn. Struck and a large fish moved left into the lilies at speed. I managed to coax it back out into the open water in front of me. It circled for a bit as if sizing up the situation. Once it broke the surface. It was a double figure fish, I'm sure of that now. But things were OK. Six pound line, a stout rod, a bit of open water...it tore off like a train, heading straight for the pads in front of me. I simply couldn't stop it. The reel screamed, the line broke and I packed up.
This means war.
Given that last season was pretty much a washout for me thanks to a major knee problem, I approach this morning with some trepidation. Now there's a good word for June the 16th. I needn't have worried.