Archive for July 12th, 2012

Wednesday was going to be a strange sort of day but I think quite a fitting one. I had been due to go to London but that had been cancelled and so I opted to go to my beloved Kennet instead. Geoff and I arrived fairly early and parked up in the car park with the intention of taking a recce of another new stretch for us this season. We wandered downstream and then about 1/2 to 3/4 mile upstream. We were very impressed with the section. Loads of bankside cover, a good flow and plenty of gravel and snags. It looked perfect for barbel and we couldn’t wait to get going.

The Kennet

The Kennet

We had spotted numerous swims that we both fancied and I decided to start at the uppermost of these and work my way back towards the car. Initially the weather was pretty good, quite clear and the sun felt warm, however that was soon to change and seemed quite fitting for the day in question.

The first swim produced nothing so after a couple of hours I opted to move downstream, especially as the wind had now picked up and the odd threatening storm cloud had started to billow up in the sky. I tried another swim and then moved again into a deeper area where I had found a deep hole by a overhanging tree. I cast a block end feeder out with some pellet inside (they are too big to come out and are there just for the scent trail), held it back slightly so the whole lot swung in towards the tree and then dropped it down into the deeper water.

The Kennet

The Kennet

I hadn’t been there long when I started to get a few crayfish knocks but shortly after I had a real roach type bite, which I never struck at. Then a guy walked up past and we had a short chat, shortly followed by another chap. At this point the skies had blackened and I felt it sensible to get an umbrella ready, just in case. Then I felt the first spot of rain, so decided to just put the brolly up anyway. With that, the rain started and within a few minutes it was torrential. The rain was pounding on the brolly and water was cascading down the sides. Then I had a couple of taps on the rod tip. I thought “oh no, not now”. With that the rod top ripped round and the strike met with a powerful fish, barbel on. The fish took several yards of line before I stopped it. It then kited out towards mid river and took a few more yards of line and then nothing. The hook had pulled. Again I thought, well perhaps that’s how it’s meant to be today.

The previous day I had attended my brother David’s funeral. He was just 47. It’s fair to say that after a rather difficult period we had become estranged. Our parents both died young, my Mum at 44 and my Dad was 54 and they died just two years apart, both from cancer. I think I was 17 when Mum died and 19 when Dad did. David was 3 years older than me. I hadn’t seen Dave since I was 21, so 23 years. I was contacted just before I went on holiday to Hereford to say that he had terminal cancer. I had arranged with some family members to go and see him once I was back, but sadly after just a few days of that initial phone call, I was informed he had died.

At the service I had learned a few things about my brother that I wasn’t aware of, or perhaps had just forgotten. He loved fishing, the countryside, wildlife and in particular gardening. Some of this surprised me because of his history and none of that quite fitted his persona. But of course he couldn’t be all bad, he came from the same parents as me and we shared the same traits.

I also learned of his generosity and compassion, which again shouldn’t have surprised me because that was what our parents were like. I now wish I had tried to see him before the end and I only wish that we could have maybe spent a day by the banks of the Kennet together, just once. Although he was a carp angler, I know he would have reveled at the wildness of the river. Become enchanted by its magic, the beautiful array of trees, plants and wild flowers would have captivated him. To see the wild deer dart along the track and disappear into the tangle of undergrowth. He loved birdsong and as I sat there today I could hear a multitude of beautiful songs and calls from the resident bird life and it seemed so clear and loud. If only he could have seen the buzzards and Red Kites soaring overhead, a kestrel hovering above the field and that iridescent flash of blue as a beautiful kingfisher hurtled past. He would have fallen in love with the place, just as I have.

So today was not just about fishing. It was more about contemplation, for sparing a thought for the departed. Fishing has given me so much, not just the catching of amazing fish but everything that goes with it and I owe it a debt of gratitude, for without it, I too could have easily gone off the rails and led a very different life. Even the weather today resembled my brother’s life. At times bright and warm, at others dark, brooding, angry and violent. Perhaps just unpredictable would some it up well. But there was an underlying generosity and compassion to him that endured. The lost fish also seemed fitting. I was hoping to catch one for him but perhaps he remains the better angler and he had the last laugh today. And quite right too.

Out of the ashes of this sadness came a bright and burning phoenix too. For I met other members of my family that I hadn’t seen for 25 years. My two cousins Kim and Jackie from London, my Auntie Anna (on my Dad’s side) and friends from childhood. I also met my nephew Josh and Niece Natalie for the first time. They were fully grown now and both wonderful young adults, who did their Dad proud and it was an honour to meet them.

I also got to meet my sister again after many, many years and I was amazed at just how much she looked like our Mum. Most of all I was reunited with my youngest brother Tony. When my parents died I looked after him for a year or two, before he went to live with my sister. I wished that had never happened. We share a very strong bond and he means more to me than anyone alive. I’ve missed him and best of all he has become a caring, generous and decent man, one that I know our parents would have been incredibly proud of. He put’s me to shame, that’s for sure!

Anyway you must forgive my indulgence, but I hope that it highlights that fishing is not just about catching fish and keep it all in perspective.

Not long before packing up we heard a roar of engines and watched in childlike awe as a Spitfire and a Mustang roared past us overhead. They then commenced an aerial display which took our breaths away. As they soared high in the sky and then dropped, hurtling towards the ground and turned sharply into another flyover. It lasted about 5-10 minutes and was a fitting end to the day. A fly past for David…well why not eh. By the way Dave I hope we meet again somewhere better, but not for at least 50 years or so! 🙂

Awesome display

Awesome display

Needless to say, neither Geoff nor myself managed any more bites that day. We bumped into Trefor West in the car park and now we’re not sure who’s stalking who! It was great to meet him again as he’s such a nice bloke.

Tight lines.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: