Steve Pope Barbel Fishing

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Fishwife Tales 6

FISHWIFE TALES – Howard Plays Hooky

Tuesday 19th April, 2016. Newland Hall, Brook Lake, Sunny, 14 degrees with a North Westerly, Easterly, North Easterly, North Westerly cross wind. Swim 28.

Being a self – employed, semi- retired gardener does have its advantages so Howard decided not to go to work at all today. He mentally put up a ‘Gone Fishing’ sign and loaded up his van without a second thought eager to try out his latest purchases and restore his alpha male pride by catching a whopper.

I am now on first name terms with our postman and indeed several delivery van drivers because hardly a day goes by when I am not taking in parcels to add to the fine collection of fishing gear accumulating in our garage.

Following my success last Sunday, an order has been placed for a cradle landing mat – the size of which would be the envy of any worthy match fisherman, an intelligent back lead – so the fish don’t accidentally bump into the line, and a cool bag for the bait – don’t even ask! Howard is 5’10” oh ok Howard, 5’11” and once the barrow is loaded he can only just about be seen him peering over the top. Everything is carefully loaded then secured with a couple of bungees.

Of course, being a gardener he steers the barrow with ease but unloading at the swim is fairly time consuming and he always generously sets up my rod first so I am settled and not in his way.

There are only a couple of other fishermen about so we have a choice of peg, but Howard chooses the same place where we fished on Sunday. There is a small quiet cul de sac of water to his left and an island directly ahead of him which is fringed by trees giving just enough shade and cover for any shy carp. I have to admire his casting; he now handles the rod like a bull whip held by Indiana Jones with consistent accuracy. Mine on the other hand is more like a game of Russian roulette, it is anybody’s guess where the weight will land. I have tried swinging it, flicking it and even an overhead lurch, it makes no difference – it goes where it wants.

“Howard, what’s that buzzing noise?” I could almost feel the vibration under my feet. “Oh, I think they are pruning a few overhanging branches at Moat Lake”.

I put the kettle on the stove and Ian the Bailiff appears as if by magic “Hello, I didn’t expect to see you today, you usually only come on a Sunday”. We explain that being as the weekend had been so busy, Howard took the day off from work to try a ‘mid weeker’. “They’re taking down a few trees and branches today – might be a bit noisy’

He then proceeds to tell us about a woman who wanted to go ice fishing, she had read several books on the subject and finally after getting all the equipment together she makes her way out on to the ice, After positioning her comfy stool she makes a circular cut in the ice, frighteningly a voice booms from above “There are no fish under the ice” Startled, the woman moved further down the ice and began to cut another hole, again, from the heavens the voice bellowed, “There are no fish under the ice” She now becomes quite concerned and moves way down to the opposite end of the ice, sets up her stool and begins to cut a hole in the ice. The voice rang out once more, “There are no fish under the ice” The woman stopped, raised her eyes to heaven and said “Is that you Lord?” The voice replied “No, this is the Rink Manager” We crack up as Ian issues us with our tickets, wishes us good luck and he’s off.

Howard got his first bite just a few minutes later a rather small silver common carp. He re cast and almost immediately he pulled in another almost identical fish. I thought it was the same one he had just released but Howard said it was probably his twin. He got a nudge on his ledger then all was quiet except the droning and buzzing of a chain saw that seemed to be getting louder and nearer.

I was enjoying the sun on my face and occasionally would spot large carp just under the surface of the water so I would re charge my feeder and catapult some sweetcorn over the platform. “give it to me” Howard reaches to me for the sling. “Where do you want it?”

I tell him and he fires expertly to the exact spot I had indicated, is it a ‘man’ thing? Anyway within a couple of minutes, I’ve got a bite. Howard is quite excited, convinced I am going to pull in a sea monster to dwarf the fish I caught on Sunday, but alas, it is a small gold coloured common carp no bigger than the two he had caught. We just didn’t understand it, the weather conditions were much the same as Sunday, why were we only catching tiddlers?

The buzzing from the chain saw and wood chipper was now almost deafening as the estate foresters were moving in closer and closer. Now I read recently that fish can feel an earthquake almost imperceptible to humans from miles away and mention it to Howard as he pulls out another then another 6” silver common carp.

“Right, “that’s it” Howard says as he pulls in his two rods, “We’re not going to catch anything much bigger today with all that racket and vibration going on, let’s go home”.

Result…Howard- 4 Silver, Di – 1 Gold (naturally!)


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