The things we put ourselves through.
Sunday morning I woke way before my alarm and lay in the warmth of my bed pondering what the day ahead held in store. Once up I slipped downstairs and skipped across the chilly wood floors to get the kettle on. Whilst the ear shattering noise of boiling water filled the silence, I peeped out of the door to see the world covered in white frost. It was certainly chilly, but that only fed my fervour for the days session.
Earlier in the week I had arranged to take Jeff to my secret squirrel perch spot on the canal promising him a new canal PB and I myself was very excited at the prospect of what looked like a classical sort of session. Cold air, fallen leaves dotting the surface of the cut and fish with an air of urgency to their feeding. How could it go wrong!
After getting my diesel chugging beast running I climbed onto the front of the van and hacked away at the solid widow screen until visibility had been restored. Prior to this my hands had been lovely and warm but that was the end of that for the day. Soon enough I was quietly tapping on Jeff's door and got no answer! A second subtle rattle of his knocker seemed to get no response either, so a proper bang was needed and that brought a bleary eyed Jeff out like some small furry animal waking from hibernation.
Every time I pick Jeff up I always seem to go the same way but today I had wondered if a differing route may save a little time. So loaded up, for the first time ever I went a right instead of left at the end of his road. Little did I know that this time saving call may of been one the worst decisions I ever made.
The roads were as expected empty, and zipping along in the dark I was pleased with my snap decision until we turned onto a quite bit of road that marks the very border of Coventry. Just as we were about to pass into some lit road, a figure appeared waving their arms on the verge. Luckily I actually saw them, as any momentary lapse in concentration would of had them splatted on the front of a large van travelling at 60 mph. Initially I thought it was just a hitch hiker trying to bum a lift, but as I moved over to pass, the person came further out into my path, nearly forcing me to swerve off into the gravel lining the road. It was Jeff who uttered, its a girl, as I just went round her. Straight away I assumed we were being flagged down for help by someone involved in a crash and the instant thought of a over turned car lying in a ditch came to mind. But when Jeff opened his door and she spoke what she said was worse, much worse! and she uttered those awful words "I've been raped by two men and I need to get back to Coventry" through the sobs. Honestly I didn't know what to say and I don't think Jeff did either. Neither of us reacted that quickly but she on the other hand did, and was in the van before any kind of offer had been made. Instinctively I pulled off and plotted the course to the nearest police station.
The crying soon subsided, and peering around an agog Jeff at our new passenger, I thought something did not look right. She was no girl dolled up for a night out that had ended badly, and now quiet she was slumping over half conscious. It then clicked what she was, and I realised we were now just a drug addict hooker taxi service. Whether she had actually been raped, or just not paid, or just wanted a free ride home was all irrelevant. The fact was that now my idle had been shattered and I now found myself in a situation akin to something from a Hunter s Thompson novel. All I needed was a head full of mushrooms and Jeff to be yelling inanely, whacked off his gourd on mescaline, and we would of been half way there.
When Jeff enquired of her wanted destination it roused her from her slumber and to give probably the last place in the world I wanted to go in this situation. Now seething, I drove as carefully as possible so as not to attract any unwanted attentions, as a trip down the local police station to explain ourselves did not appeal whatsoever. In the end we did get rid of the unwanted passenger and ended probably the worst start to a day I have had in a long time.
I think what up pissed me off me the most about the whole incident was that we were pulled in under the guise of someone needing help. Yes, should we have been needed to help someone in a crashed car we would not of hesitated, or should it of been a genuine assault we would of done our duty in driving right to the police station. But this girl did so easily what people in her unenviable position do, and dragged two innocent people into her world of crap. And in future I can't deny that if such a situation should occur I for one will think twice about stopping...
We did eventually get to the canal and when we did my heart sank a little. Here was me waxing lyrical to Jeff guaranteeing a good day and the cut looked not that dissimilar to the milky coffee Jacky is partial too. Still we got going and Jeff soon enough got an early indication. Then just as he waited for it to develop rain began to dimple the surface and the wind kicked up. Luckily I had a brolly and we were soon entrenched under it for what looked like a long morning.
The sport was slow by this places standards, but early on my dead bait rod danced off attached to a small jack pike which I landed, then twice again slid away pulled off by what we both suspected were dithering Zander which I did not land. Jeff plugged away putting together a lovely bag of perch and I nabbed a couple here or there. But now the weather was taking its toll. The incessant rain was accompanied by sleet,snow flakes and a biting wind. Both of us were suffering badly but with little inclination to move we endured on.
It got to the stage where we were so cold that our hands were unable to evaporate the damp from them leaving permanently wet. If it weren't for the fact that Jeff looked colder than me I would of considered sharing body heat, it was that bad. Even madder than us was Andy who turned up for a possible chuck of lures only dressed in water proofs. He ended up crouching on the mud beside our camp for half an hour before seeing sense and going home.
The rain did eventually stop and this was our chance to get out and pack up. Just as we began we both turned to see the float of my dead bait line had vanished. Winding down I discover the rig at least ten feet out of position and struck hard into a decent fish and moments later landed this mint plump Zander.
Before doing anything with it I flicked out the rig onto the same spot then got a few pictures. By the time I had released that one and got on with packing up, it went off again attached to a smaller but still pristine second Zander.
In the end even though we had pushed ourselves to the very edge of endurance we had a good mornings fishing and Jeff looked pleased as punch with his net load of billies that included a new canal PB which I duly informed he would beat next time he came back with me.
The Lake #17 Ahab is back after the pike eater.
That flipping big pike has been haunting my dreams. I swear most nights as I try to fall asleep the vision of it's flaring gills flashing white as it engulfed that bream creeps into my minds eye. I knew I must go back. But I needed time and decent amount time at that, for my traps to have chance to work.
Time is the key with the lake I think. It takes time to locate them, or for them to locate you. Either way I did not care, I just needed a whole day at least on the lake. So I booked a day off work to have another crack. Last time I was here I felt I had flitted about spending too little time in any one spot, and that sounds mad as I only fished two swims. This time though it would be one and I would wait it out for ether failure or success and possibly even madness.
The lake looked in fine fettle with a green tinge to the water. The brook had obviously been pumping coloured water in over the weekend just passed, and I could not wait to get started. In no time at all my three floats were rotating around the large bowl of an area I had chosen to fish, and almost instantly my short range float did a quick bob which sent a ripple out over the calm water, indicating a imminent take.
It was only small but what he lacked in size he made up for with spirit, and did a spectacular jump just off the end of my landing net. But that was to no avail as the next time round a plump and prime jack found the folds of my net.
I would love to say the next eight hours were a blur of non stop action, but they weren't. In reality all that ensued was a very long staring contest between me and the lake. Honestly it seemed like prime conditions with overcast skies, drizzly rain and reasonable temperatures. But it wasn't until the very last gasp that another float sparked up in exactly the same way and produced a equally spirited jack of a slightly larger size.
It is a little hard to see in this picture, but this fish had a little indicator that maybe I might not be that far off track, as it had signs of being grabbed by a much larger fish across its back. It was never a deep wound but more of scrape where large patches of scales had been removed by what looked like a considerably larger fish and indicated the definite presence of a pike eater in the lake.
This second foray after my white whale did produce some better results as the fish are getting slowly bigger. For my part though I do feel the whole Ahab-like obsession creeping over me. Maybe now I should start looking for a stove pipe hat, then get to work on Andy with a magic marker and fake tan so he can be my Queequeg.