Even at the height of summer (which it isn’t yet anyway!) the unpredictability of the English weather demands that the angler always carries some form of shelter to shield him from the elements. For me that is usually an umbrella – however when doing an overnighter often something more substantial is called for. Since the end of last year I have been using a Fox Evolution shelter which suits me down to the ground. And as you can shape it to within inches from the floor, that could be classed as a literal statement!
One thing I have found though with every shelter/bivvy that I have bought is that the pegs, while sufficient for soft grass, are not up to the job on venues such as a gravel pit. That’s why I invested in something more substantial – I learned the hard way after numerous bent pegs! In addition, a decent mallet is definitely worth getting hold of. You still see anglers looking around for rocks and stones, when a few sharp taps with the right tool is all that is needed. It might just be a small item but a mallet can save a lot of time, not to mention bashed fingers!
So, with minimum effort I was all set up and ready to foil the attempts of the looming dark clouds to drench me. Once the shelter is in place I’m very happy knowing that everything is dry. It’s no fun being wet through the night, and if possible it’s always something I try to avoid. I have no problems with fishing in rain, just that I try to avoid direct contact. But of course if you get a fish during a downpour that’s a different story!
Anyway, on this occasion it wasn’t even an issue, because after the clouds had passed, the sun came out and I was fishing in my Wolves shirt! And whilst I do feel that the choice of angling clothes is important, when fishing at distance on a gravel pit at night for example, camouflage is probably more of a fashion accessory than anything to do with fishing. And please note the use of the word ‘probably’ as I don’t wish my e-mail inbox to flooded with threats from Realtree addicts the country over!
And as if to prove my point, within an hour of casting out with the sun still high in the sky, I was into a fish. At first I thought it was a bream, which would have been a turn up for the books, as every one I’ve caught so far has come during darkness. But I soon discovered that a nice tench had taken the boilie fished pop-up style on the plateau in front of me. In a couple of weeks or so I will be embarking on a short (but hopefully sweet) tench campaign, so the practice came in handy!
Falling short of 7lb it was still what I would call a good fish. Although tench, like so many other species, have rocketed in weight in recent years, it hasn’t been that long ago that a fish of that size would have made front page headlines on the weekly angling newspapers. And even though double figure tench do put in an appearance more frequently nowadays, the waters that hold them are not exactly thick on the ground. Certainly, the venue I will be fishing in a fortnight or so, although it has an excellent head of 5-6lb fish, nevertheless a ‘7’ is a rarity indeed.
So more than grateful for my tench I settled back and waited for the bream to show up. I had put out a good helping of bait and so had no worries about the fish not hanging around – should they show up in the first place of course! As it happened, the tench proved to be the only fish of the session, but every cloud has a silver lining and so it did mean that I got a good night’s sleep. Apart from the rat, but that’s another story!
With a family holiday in Northumberland coming up, the trip was the only one of the week. We actually had a great time up on the moors and it’s the first holiday that I haven’t taken rods of some description for as far back as I can remember. I did do some bird watching though instead, and found myself alongside water on more than one occasion, with the South Tyne being a particularly nice looking river. In between spotting Common Sandpiper, Dipper and Spotted Flycatcher I kept looking at the deep holes, glides and overhanging bushes and feeling my appetite getting whetted!
Although my angling does encompass every conceivable piece of water, from pools to streams, lakes to rivers, I must confess that the flowing variety wins hands down every time. And certainly now that we are creeping along towards June 16, I am definitely getting more excited. And although I will no doubt be on lots of still waters over the next nine months, there is no question that I will be at my happiest when sitting alongside burbling water!
(Originally published June 2005)