The early morning smiles and elation of achieving my target had faded long ago. It had taken less than thirty minutes from the initial cast for one of my rods to stutter into life and sound a steady run. My strike had met solid and oblivious resistance from a fish which just plodded around the lake. That sedate fight too fast became a distant memory as the battle turned nasty and the sturgeon went ballistic unable to escape my constant pressure. The fight over, the fish continued its rage slapping me senseless as I tried to hold it for a picture.
Now though my day had changed... The action had slowed as the sun rose high in the sky and something was wrong,.. very wrong!
A cold sweat crawled across my body and signals were being sent to my brain that indicated not all was well. I felt awful, like I had ingested a couple of live eels, one residing above my belt and the other below. I soon found myself in that terrible state when all your mind can comprehend is illness; all other thoughts had fallen from my mind. After muttering to my companion Martin asking him to watch my gear, I walked away from the lake sucking in air and wiping beads of sweat from my forehead, desperately seeking sanctuary. But at the end of the short but very long journey what I found was far from comforting. I've been to plenty of festivals in my life so have borne witness to some pretty inconvenient conveniences, but this one at this time made all those others seem like an en suite at the savoy. None of that mattered to me now, I just needed to be in here. Panic was now upon me and I fumbled at my clothes barely freeing them before waves of sweet blessed relief passed over my body. As if I had just taken a shot of heroin, comfort and euphoria coursed through my body. I had never been so happy to be in such a bad place as this.
Still enjoying the after shocks of relief I pondered how I had come to be in this position. Obviously something I had ingested was the perpetrator. Time, I surmised, discounted the previous days consumption so all that remained was today's fodder. Was it that sausage roll around ten or possibly the pepperami that followed it? Maybe Martin had poisoned that toffee crisp he had given me by way of revenge for me catching the first sturgeon. No, these were stupid thoughts as all that had come vacuum packed and still chilled. It had to be now to some microscopic germ that had piggy backed its way in somewhere along the line.
Air never smelt so good as it did when I stepped out of that fettered blue plastic hell hole. It was how people must have felt leaving some god forsaken solitary cell in prisoner of war camps. Even that momentary happiness was short lived as the sickness continued to wrack my body for the next four hours. The only thing I could imagine was how good it would have felt to be home, but my range was so depleted that even the end of the drive seemed too long of a journey for me to manage right now. All I could do was stick this out, let it pass and try to resist the idea of curling up on my unhooking mat clutching my guts whilst whimpering softly. This will probably be the only time I will ever say this but thank god the fishing was slow as inactivity was what I need right now, and inactivity I got.
Happily my episodes by late afternoon had abated and just as I was coming round the fish responded as carp after carp greedily forced my oversized chunks of meat into their mouths. Even in my weakened state I began to enjoy the day again and by the time the next sturgeon, a small diamond, turned up the colour had returned to my recently pallid skin and I could smile again.
Having stuck with one particular line all day I was rewarded with a third and final sturgeon not long before we left. Though this one was to turn out to the hardest battle by far. I have read that these prehistoric fish are one of the hardest fighting fish in freshwater and as my bite indicator went off I was about to have this confirmed. Dehydrated and weak I took it easy as the fish just circled round endlessly, but this could have gone on forever as far as the fish was concerned. More pressure meant more fight and more thrashing! I've thought about how to describe how these fish fight and the best I can come up with is it's like a cross between a barbel and a pike.
Eventually it went into the net and I won't deny that in my state I was relatively happy about that, but I was even more happy to land my second decent sturgeon of the day. Which once again gave me heap of hassle on the mat just to finish me off for the day.
The next day I was wrecked! Both the illness and the fishing had taken their toll on me. Lying of the sofa I did crack a wry smile at the thought of retuning as there are fish four times the size of my biggest in those lakes and I really fancy a tussle with one of those monsters. Although I think from now on I will call an end to all bank side picnics for the foreseeable future.