It always amazes me how quickly the countryside colours change in the warmer months. Through winter it always looks similar and even in differing light the fields and such are really just different shades of the same faded yellows and brown for months on end. In the summer though you can turn your back and look again to see the same vista looking totally anew.
In two weeks the land that surrounded the vole city stretch of the Oxford canal was nothing more than the new fresh green summer green. Now though as I stumbled along the bank, the waterway was flanked by meadows raging with so many butter cups that the horses walking among them looked like characters from a Doctor Zeus cartoon.
If that wasn't enough, the field opposite had turned from Warwickshire mud red with a hint of green into the dream scene from Ridley Scott's Gladiator. I half expected to see Russell Crowe walking wistfully amongst it fingling the wheat sheaves as he went.
Really I wanted to have returned before now, but nine days ago whilst putting out the bin I twisted in a odd way and something in my back went pop. Ever since then I have been delicately trying to rehabilitate myself from feeling like my top and bottom half of my body were not attached correctly to being able to hobble more than thirty feet in one go.
With only minimal recovery time off work and one very sedate session where I fished within eye shot of the bridge where my car was parked in a stance not that dissimilar to someone who had had an accident in their underpants, I now felt ready to return again.
We all take walking for granted if you ask me and walking on an uneven tow-path with any element of a bad back basically wheedles out any weakness in your body, trust me. The previously mentioned session I barely got anywhere, and even with four more days of recovery I had only walked a very short way before my altered gate began to tell on my right hip.
Trying to forget any discomfort, I went about casting methodically along the reed lined bank trying to locate any predators lurking along the camouflaging reeds. I have to admit that I was under the impression that with the summers arrival the predatory fish would become vicious weapons of mass consumption and that they would be crawling up my line. The truth I am finding is not quite what I thought it would be! In fact although I do believe the fish are more aggressive, they firstly have more actual prey to become preoccupied with and secondly seem to be quite spread out on the canals. All of which adds up to summer lure fishing on the canal possibly being harder than winter fishing as far see at the moment. Maybe it will get easier as the time passes or maybe it's a case of tuning in to summer feeding fishes habits.
Whatever the reason for the current state of the fishing I was in no doubt after an hour of casting that I wasn't doing something right, so quickly tied up a drop shot rig and began dobbing the ever reliable Wave tikki monkey along the near side margin and finally got a result by way of a chunky hard fighting perch.
With the dusk approaching I left vole city and headed down to the spot where I had hobbled to a few days earlier. Although on that occasion I had fallen foul of the blank I did see at least three attacks on what looked like small roach that were taking something of the surface. I knew there were predators present and I hoped that arriving just before the witching hour would let me get the best of the area.
It took some time to come good, but in the furious hour after the sun sank beyond the horizon the small zander of which all the canals seem rife with came out to play. There seemed to be a shoal marauding around the area as every one of the four micro zander I landed and the one I lost were all within an inch of each other in length. The only lure that seemed to interest them was a three inch AGM black curly tail grub, which I suspect was showing up quite well against the clear sky as I bounced it across the bottom. Another hard fighting perch took a fancy to the grub just as I was about lift the lure to cast again and really gave me some stick on the light gear.
It was great to get out on the bank again and somewhere in the melee of action at dusk I actually for the first time in a while forgot about my niggling back. Now I am somewhere near full fitness I need to get back on it, as I have few venues I want to visit before the season opens again and my quickly dwindling time becomes even more stretched.