Sunday, January 15, 2012

Unexpected item in bagging area

Must be five or six years since I've fished this bit of drain, I enthuse as we clamber up the flood bank. We need to be a bit further down, that used to be the bagging area.

"How far," asks TLC as our breath steams in the cold dawn air. Another mile or so, I shrug. Half an hour later, we're in what used to be the spot. It doesn't look like anyone's been here all season.

This fills me with confidence, for obvious reasons. We agree we'll give it a half hour, then begin the long leap frog back to the car.

I remember one of Digger's pearls of wisdom for some reason. The one where he reckons he's leap frogged a mile of drain or river for every twenty he's caught over the years. Once we've got the rods out, I have a nose around the bank for signs anyone else has beaten us to what used to be a rated area.

Something has. Down in the grass, there are otter spraints. I look around and find a few more, in varying states of decay. Neglected by the likes of us, it seems Tarka has stepped into the void - very nicely, too, judging by the amount of droppings.

I did see an otter, several miles away, on the same drain earlier in the season. We give it half an hour, get itchy feet, and start swim hopping back towards civilisation. 

We find more otter droppings, here and there. But no fish. After half a mile or so, we began seeing signs of other anglers. Otters aren't renowned for their love of Marlboro Lights, with health warnings written in Polish.

We press on, as the sun starts dropping away to the West. TLC wonders when the mile will be up and we'll catch one of Digger's twenties. Looking back down the drain, we must have covered a mile by 3pm, as we cast the baits into the umpteenth swim of the day.

"I'm in," he shouts, as a float finally shows some signs of life. I reel my rods in and walk down with the net. "Don't reckon I'll be needing that," he says, swinging in the smallest pike I've seen all season, which might just go a pound on a good day.

"Come on," says TLC. "We want yer mum - or yer granny..." As dusk creeps in around us, one of his floats plops under the surface again.

He briefly hooks what's obviously a much larger fish, which comes off inexplicably after a couple of head shakes.

Our mile's well and truly up. That might even have been one of Digger's twenties, if you believe his maths. We sit it out the final 20 minutes or so until the sun sets, before we trudge the last few hundred yards back to the car.

Did we find the only two pike in that entire stretch of drain - or did they just switch on briefly as the light levels dropped. There must be a reason the otters like it so much around there either way. Definitely worth another look.

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